Wednesday, 7 December 2022

FIFA Disciplinary Committee Confirms Croatia's Fine for Fan Taunts at Milan Borjan

December 7, 2022 - The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has confirmed Croatia's fine for fan taunts at Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan in their second-round Group F match at the World Cup on November 27, 2022. 

The disciplinary committee of the International Football Federation (FIFA) fined the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) 50,000 Swiss francs for the behavior of some fans at the 2022 World Cup match against Canada in Qatar.

During the match, some Croatia fans insulted the Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who has Serbian roots and had previously made inappropriate statements about the Homeland War and being born in Krajina, not Croatia, back in 1987. A poster with offensive content referencing his leaving Croatia also appeared in the stands.

"The Croatian Football Federation was fined 50,000 Swiss francs for violating Article 16 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (use of words and objects to convey a message that is not appropriate for a sporting event) in connection with the behavior of Croatia fans during the match against Canada," FIFA announced.

The Football Federations of Serbia and Saudi Arabia were also fined.

Serbia was fined 20,000 Swiss francs for "violations of Article 11 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and Article 4 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Regulations about the flag displayed in the dressing room after the match against Brazil," they said.

Namely, after the match against Brazil, a flag was hung in Serbia's dressing room with a map of Kosovo painted in the colors of the Serbian flag, with the slogan: "No surrender."

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has been fined 15,000 Swiss francs twice for misconduct by players who earned six yellow cards during matches against Argentina and Mexico.

Source: HRT

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

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

How to Croatia: An Overview of the Croatian Education System

December 7, 2022 – In today’s edition of How to Croatia, we are bringing an overview of the Croatian education system from early childhood to higher education.

The Croatian education system starts with childcare or formally with the preschool year. While the earliest that children can be enrolled is at six months in jaslice (Croatian term for nursery), the mandatory aspect of education typically starts at the beginning of the year before the start of primary school at the age of 6 and lasts until the age of 14. Secondary and higher education in Croatia are accessible to all but not mandatory. There are both public and private education institutions at every level. The academic year in Croatia usually starts in early September for primary and secondary education or October for higher education. It ends in early June for primary and secondary levels, while at the higher education level, it sometimes extends to the second half of July.

Childcare and preschool

As mentioned above, the earliest a child can be enrolled in childcare is at six months old, though that depends on the specific institution. In most places, local authorities will have a system of benefits or subsidies for parents, especially those with more than one child. English is taught in most Croatian kindergartens, while international kindergartens with programmes in foreign languages (German, French, Italian, Spanish) can, for now, only be found in Zagreb and Split. Preschool education is mandatory and free of charge for all children in the year just before they start primary school.

Primary school

Children start primary school at 7 or 6 if they turn seven before the 31st of March of the following year (that same academic year). Primary school is split into two levels and lasts eight years. Grades 1-4 are oriented towards class teaching, where there is one main teacher who covers the base subjects (Croatian, mathematics, art, social), while subject teachers for foreign languages, computer science, and religion come in to teach their specialised subjects usually for one or two classes per week.

The second level of primary education, grades 5-8, is oriented toward subject teaching. The pupils are still organised into classes and allocated a teacher responsible for class admin, but specialised subject teachers teach all the subjects. Subjects like geography, history, and biology are introduced in grade 5, while chemistry and physics are introduced in grade 7.

Specific inclusive programmes are set up for children with learning disabilities, which are either adjusted or individualised to fit their needs.

Secondary education

The secondary level of education typically starts at the age of 14, while the duration depends on the type of programme. There are two main types in Croatia, grammar schools and vocational schools.

Grammar schools are further specialised into those with a general or classical programme, those which focus more on natural subjects, or those with a focus on languages. Programmes in all grammar schools typically last four years and enable the students to pursue higher education.

Vocational schools, on the other hand, equip students for a specific profession. The duration depends on the programme, where programmes for trades typically last between one and three years, hospitality and tourism programmes last three years, economy and computer science last four years, and nursing school lasts five years. After graduating from a vocational school, students can either pursue higher education or enter the job market with the qualification they acquire.

When it comes to primary and secondary programmes in foreign languages, just as is the case with childcare, international schools exist in Zagreb and Split.

Higher education

One of the best aspects of life in Croatia is that higher education is free for all. The public education system of universities, colleges, and polytechnics is very well developed and follows the European Higher Education framework based on the Bologna Process. The requirements for enrollment depend on the specific programmes, but the base is a points system that accounts for the student’s final grades during all years of secondary education and a state exam at the end. All students who wish to study at public higher education institutions must pass the mandatory subjects – Croatian, English, and mathematics, and they can choose to sit for the supplementary subjects which might be required or bear extra credit for specific fields (e.g., biology and chemistry for medicine). When it comes to programmes in foreign languages, alongside language studies, several universities have started offering public programmes in English, like those in Zagreb, Split, and Rijeka. A vast network of private higher education institutions also exists in Croatia, offering various programmes.

Inclusive special education

Croatia has a developed inclusive education system for children with developmental and learning difficulties, starting with childcare. Depending on the extent of their needs, they might be enrolled in mainstream classes where they are approached with programmes tailored specifically for them or have a learning assistant assigned. On the other hand, they might be directed toward a specialised school which, in some cases, they can attend until the age of twenty-one.

Art and music

Another aspect of education regulated by law is official art (dance) and music education. Primary music school lasts six years, and children from the age of 7 can be enrolled. Secondary music school lasts four years and can be taken as the only programme of secondary education. More often than not, though, students attend music school parallel to another secondary school. Primary dance school lasts four years, and so does secondary dance school, which can also serve as the only secondary programme.

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

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Historic Croatian Schengen Entry Decision Awaited with Bated Breath

December the 7th, 2022 - On Thursday, the Croatian Schengen entry decision will finally be made. Croatia has fulfilled all requirements and Schengen countries have all said they have nothing against the accession, despite a bit of confusion having been caused by nearby Austria, which has since been cleared up. Long queues at the land borders will become a thing of the past if we're given the green light.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ministers of justice and interior affairs of the member states of the European Union are set to meet on Thursday to decide on Croatia's admission to the passport-free Schengen zone, which enables the free movement of more than 400 million people.

One of the most contentious points was Croatia's ability to police the EU's longest external land border, at a time when migration remains a key challenge, AFP said in its analysis. On top of that, Croatia's request for membership in the Schengen area back in 2016 also came at a very sensitive time for Europe.

Millions of migrants, many having fled from various conflict zones, have risked their lives since 2015 trying to enter the EU illegally, and then the global pandemic broke out in 2020. Both of these crises forced Schengen countries to reintroduce certain border controls despite being a zone of so-called ''free movement''.

If Croatian Schengen entry is granted tomorrow – potentially alongside Bulgaria and Romania – the kilometre-long lines of vehicles at the Bregana border crossing with Slovenia that we all know (and loathe) will finally become a thing of the past. Bregana is otherwise one of the 73 land crossings on the Croatian border with Slovenia and Hungary that will cease to exist if the green light is given.

"On January the 1st, 2023, we will remove those barriers and border traffic will flow freely," Zoran Niceno, head of the Border Administration, told AFP. At Croatia's airports, the change as a result of Schengen entry will take effect on March the 26th only, due to technical requirements which don't need to be assessed at land borders.

Croatia hopes that Schengen membership will strengthen its lucrative tourism industry, which is already booming, with less waiting around and passport checking to consider for all those coming from other Schengen countries.

"International carriers will be delighted," Vladimir Jurcec from the national association of road carriers told AFP, and abolishing border checks will save them six to ten hours a week.

On January the 1st, 2023, Croatia will also scrap the kuna and adopt the bloc's single currency (the euro) with its official accession to the Eurozone, which despite controversies and varying opinions, will also work to make life much easier when it comes not only to tourism but to residents of this country with loans, as they will no longer be vulnerable to exchange rate fluctuations.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

From Religion to War Anniversaries - Croatian National Holidays

December the 7th, 2022 - Being a Catholic country, there are a lot of Croatian national holidays. Religion isn’t the only reason they occur, of course, with some being related to a significant day in national history or being anniversaries of important dates during the Homeland War which saw Croatia break away from the former Yugoslavia, win a brutal war, and become an independent, sovereign state.

There are fourteen Croatian national holidays in total, and it’s worth trying to make a mental note of at least a handful or so of them because many businesses put their keys in the lock and most shops put up the closed signs without much notice. You’re kind of expected to just know. 

Some national holidays marked in Croatia are more or less the same as across the rest of Europe, but others may appear random and more obscure to foreigners who might be surprised at everything suddenly being closed without much warning.

New Year’s Day (Nova Godina) - January the 1st.

Epiphany (Sveta tri kralja/Bogojavljenje) - January the 6th.

Easter (Uskrs) - The date changes annually depending on when Easter actually falls.

International Workers’ Day (Međunarodni praznik rada) - May the 1st.

Corpus Christi (Tijelovo) - The date changes annually because it occurs sixty days after Easter, the date of which also alters from year to year.

Statehood Day (Dan Državnosti) - May the 30th.

Anti-Fascist Struggle Day (Dan antifašističke borbe) - June the 22nd.

Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti) - August the 5th.

The Assumption of Mary (Velika Gospa) - August the 15th.

All Saints Day (Dan svih svetih) - November the 1st.

Remembrance Day for the victims of the Croatian War of Independence and the Vukovar and Škabrnja massacres (Dan sjećanja na žrtve Domovinskog rata i Dan sjećanja na žrtvu Vukovara i Škabrnje) - November the 18th.

Christmas (Božić) - December the 25th.

Saint Stephen’s Day (Sveti Stjepan) - December the 26th.

 

For more on traditions and customs, living in Croatia, moving to Croatia and other things you need to know, make sure to keep up with our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Who Will Benefit Most from Historic Croatia-USA Double Taxation Agreement?

December the 7th, 2022 - After three (very long) decades of negotiations, the representatives of Croatia and the USA in Washington are finally set to conclude the Croatia-USA double taxation agreement today. Croatia is otherwise the only nation in the EU and NATO that hasn't yet regulated this relationship.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, back during previous years, analysts assessed that the signing of the Croatia-USA double taxation agreement, which will finally result in the avoidance of having to pay tax on income in both nations to both nations, will not result in a sudden rush of American investors to Croatia, nor will it open up new businesses for Croatian companies on the American market. What it will primarily do is result in considerable benefits for companies that are already operating, as they will be less burdened by tax payments. It will also increase their level of competitiveness overall.

However, circumstances have changed somewhat over more recent years, and it seems that the number of those who will benefit from the settlement of fiscal relations between these two countries on each side of the Atlantic Ocean will be more significant. What will this mean exactly, and who will benefit the most from the signing of the historic Croatia-USA double taxation agreement?

Climbing the ladder

The USA was not among the major investors in Croatia for a very long time, but that has changed quite significantly in recent years. Steve Bubalo, an American entrepreneur with Croatian roots, has the longest investment experience here. He invested in the Vrana agricultural farm near Biograd in Zadar, as well as in rural tourism in Baranja, and one of his big takeovers was certainly Barr's takeover of Pliva back in 2006, which was then taken over by the Israeli company Teva.

After Croatia joined the EU back in July 2013, and especially over the last few years, more serious investments followed, such as IBM's investment in the Technical Support Centre in Zagreb, two years ago New York's One Equity Partners invested 200 million dollars in Infobip, and this summer, Goldman Sachs, together with the Japanese SoftBank, invested 500 million euros in the remarkable Rimac Group.

At the same time, in Savski Marof, the start of work on the new production facility of the American company Pfizer for the production of innovative biological drugs, in which it is investing 100 million euros, was marked. The USA is thus climbing the investment ladder, and from 1993 to the end of the second quarter of this year, more than 595 million euros had been invested in Croatia, and thanks to the latest investments successfully ticked off, it took 15th place on the list of investors in this country.

It's also interesting to note that Croatian investments over in the USA over the past three decades, in Croatian circumstances at least, aren't insignificant. They amount to more than 73 million euros, and among those Croatian companies that started production in the USA is, for example, Podravka. HS Produkt from Karlovac has also been among the main exporters for years, along with Pliva.

Trade has also been growing in recent years, especially in the last year on the back of US LNG imports. In terms of trade, Croatia is mainly focused on the market of the EU and neighbouring non-EU countries, but thanks to LNG terminal on Krk, the USA has moved up to the seventh place among the main trade partners.

In the first nine months of 2022, imports from the USA into Croatia amounted to more than 2.07 billion euros and at the annual level they increased by 703%, and goods from Croatia were exported for 349 million euros (marking a decrease of 17%).

According to AmCham's estimates, the Croatia-USA double taxation agreement will have a positive effect on the transfer of knowledge, due to the costs of withholding taxes on the provision of certain services and royalties, and the costs of labour taxation, which is particularly important for the IT sector and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Croatian companies that establish subsidiaries over in the USA are currently subject to federal and state income tax, and dividend payments are subject to a 30% tax. Since the corporate tax rate in Croatia stands at 12 or 18%, AmCham estimates that the cumulative US tax rate is very discouraging for Croatian companies.

A company in Croatia owned by a larger American company pays profit tax at the rate of 18%, and according to the parent company in the USA, it must make three payments per year, for interest and royalties, and then for dividends, it pays withholding tax at rates of 12 and 15 %, and only the net after-tax amount can be paid to the US parent company.

This Croatia-USA double taxation agreement will make it possible to get rid of these payments once and for all, and make it so that the full amount is paid to the parent company, which makes Croatia more attractive as an investment and business destination overall.

"This is a significant step for the business community both in the USA and Croatia, which for many years advocated the initiation of negotiations on the signing of such an agreement. This step is particularly important for AmCham and its members, given that it prepared the initial arguments for the conclusion of the agreement back in 2018 and brings together companies that are most involved in trade and investment flows between Croatia and the USA," said Andrea Doko Jelusic, the executive director of AmCham Croatia.

The conclusion of this historic (and long-awaited) agreement will bring a lower financial burden for companies, and here on the Croatian side, it will be especially interesting for the IT sector, as well as for the food and pharmaceutical industry, while on the American side, it will open space for cooperation with small and medium-sized companies that haven't been represented in Croatia until now.

The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) also welcomes the signing of the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation between Croatia and the USA, and points out that, although there's still some time to go before its full implementation, it is to be expected that it will have a positive impact on the overall economic relations between the two countries, mutual trade, and will especially facilitate mutual investments.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Another Banovina Earthquake Wakes Residents in Early Hours

December the 7th, 2022 - Ever since the devastating Banovina earthquake which struck right at the very end of December 2020, the ground in that part of the country has kept on moving. It doesn't seem likely to stop anytime soon given the fact that traumatised residents were woken at around 02:00 this morning by yet another earthquake.

Parts of Central Croatia, particularly the wider Sisak-Moslavina County area, still look as if time has stood still since that fateful natural disaster back at the very end of the pandemic-dominated year of 2020. The government talks big and there are many promises of funds being poured into the renovation of the Banovina (or Banija, if you like) area following that event, but the reality is that many families who lost their properties to nature are still living in containers. 

The last thing the residents of this very active part of the country, at least in terms of earthquakes, need, is yet another Banovina earthquake. Although incomparable to the ones which struck in December 2020, the one which woke people with the shaking of the ground and their homes during the early hours of this morning was enough to make memories come flooding back for most people.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the residents of Banovina were awoken by the shaking of the ground at around 02:00 in the morning whrn they felt the Banovina earthquake with an epicentre just eleven kilometres from Petrinja, strike. It was also felt right here in the wider Zagreb area but to a far lesser degree.

"The sound was terrifying. When it started, the house shook for about ten seconds, and then there was more rocking. It hasn't been like this for a long time," one of the residents of Glina, an area heavily damaged by 2020's earthquake, wrote on the EMSC website.

For more, make sure to check out our news section.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Breaking News: MiG Crash Near Slatina, Both Pilots Found

December 6, 2022 - A MiG crash occured near Slatina, close to Daruvar in eastern Croatia. Both pilots have now been found and are both in a stable condition. It is not yet clear what caused the accident.

The criminal military police and the chief aviation military investigator will conduct an investigation into the crash of the two-seater MiG, it was said at the Ministry of Defense's press conference, where it was also pointed out that the pilots had reported certain problems in the operation of the engines.

Index reports minute-by-minute, with the most recent updates on top.

8 pm

Banožić: The fall of the MiG showed that the army is ready for challenging tasks

Defense Minister Mario Banožić said that fortunately both pilots were found alive and that the incident showed the readiness of the Croatian Army to successfully perform its tasks despite challenging moments and the state of the equipment.

5:43 pm
Aircraft located using modern technology

"At the moment, it is not possible to access the area where the plane fell. It is a dense forest and scrub, it is in an area between two hills, and the plane broke in half. Part of it burned, only the tail remained.

The head of the Virovitica-Podravina Police Department and the head of the police service for public order and peace, together with the firemen, were the first to reach the place where the plane crashed and began extinguishing it. One pilot was found by emergency police officers and a local resident who helped him. The second pilot made it to the house near the accident by himself.

The crash site is secured by the military police," ICV journalist Tomislav Maloča told N1.

He adds that the pilots were transferred by helicopter to a hospital in Zagreb.

The plane was located using modern technology to locate the last trajectory that the plane itself sent.

5:25 pm
President Milanović also responded

"At this moment, the most important thing is that both pilots of the Croatian Air Force are alive and that there are no victims or injuries at the place of the plane crash, as well as no damage to citizens' property. I wish the injured pilot a speedy recovery. I am in constant contact with the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia, Admiral Robert Hranj, who informs me of the situation. I expect that the circumstances and the reason for the crash of the MiG-21 aircraft will be determined as soon as possible," said President Zoran Milanović, reports N1.

4:50 pm
Witness: The pilot came out of the forest disoriented. He said he didn't remember anything

A Croatian Air Force MiG-21 plane crashed 10 kilometres from Voćin on difficult-to-access terrain, a little before 2:00 p.m. today. After a large search in which all emergency services participated, both pilots were found alive.

4:38 pm

HGSS: The plane has also been found

"Both pilots and the plane they were looking for have been found in the vicinity of the municipality of Voćin," HGSS writes.

4:19 pm

Both pilots were found, announcement by the Ministry of Defense

Both pilots from the two-seater MIG 21 fighter plane of the Croatian Air Force were found alive. During its fall, the pilots successfully ejected and landed, the Ministry of Defense reported in the afternoon.

The pilots are in a stable condition, out of danger and will be transported to the hospital for a medical examination. They successfully ejected from the two-seater MIG-21 aircraft, which crashed during a planned training activity near Slatina, and landed. Two Croatian Air Force Mi-171 helicopters, members of the Military Police Regiment and an unmanned aerial vehicle were immediately sent to the scene of the accident for search and rescue purposes.

The operational forces of the civil protection system were also engaged: State Civil Protection Intervention Units, firefighters, Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, and police officers and hunters were sent to the field. The Ministry of Defense will inform the public about the details in a timely manner.

4:02 pm 
In the last 12 years, there have been six major accidents involving MORH aircraft

A MiG-21 of the Ministry of Defense crashed today near Voćin, which was s the seventh accident involving a Ministry of Defense aircraft in the last twelve years.

3:59 pm
Vidović: This is why we had to buy new planes

While the Chairman of the Committee, Franko Vidović, said that the case showed the justification of buying new aircraft.

3:56 pm
The second pilot was also found, he is alive

The second pilot was also found. He is injured, but alive, Index learned unofficially.

3: 53 pm
Search dogs also looking for the pilot

Mateja Fras Venus, commander of the Virovitica-Podravina County Fire Brigade, revealed to N1 what wass known thus far about the MiG crash. "We have information that the MiG fell in the area of the Virovitica-Podravine County, specifically the Voćin Municipality. Firefighters are on the ground, as well as rescue teams and K-9 teams with dogs. We are currently inspecting the area, combing and looking for the crew," she said. One part of the field is less accessible because it is a hilly area, she explained.

3:31 pm
HGSS announced that they are also searching for the missing pilot

"The Požega, Bjelovar and Orahovica stations are participating in the search for the aircraft in the Virovitica-Podravina County, while the Zagreb, Zlatar Bistrica, Varaždin, Čakovec, Novska, Slavonski Brod, Vinkovci and Osijek stations are arriving," HGSS announced.

3:12 pm

The government confirmed minister Banožić is going to the site of the MiG crash.

The government confirmed that the Minister of Defense Mario Banožić and the Chief of the General Staff, Hranj, and the Director of HRZ Križanec, are going to the site of the MiG crash.

They state that Banožić is going to the crash site in agreement with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who is in Tirana.

3:02 pm
Sačić called on Banožić to resign

Parliamentary representative of the Croatian sovereignists and member of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense Željko Sačić commented on the fall of the MiG, stating that the Minister of Defense Mario Banožić should resign.

Sačić reminds that former minister Damir Krstičević resigned in a similar situation.

3 pm 
One pilot has been found, the search started for the other

As a well-informed source confirmed to Index, one pilot was found after he ejected and radioed in.

The other pilot is being sought.

2:56 pm
Selak for Index: I assume that some technical problem happened, I have information that both pilots ejected

Index contacted the famous military pilot Ivan Selak about the MiG crash near Slatina.

"It is certain that an investigation will now follow. I learned that both pilots had ejected. I guess there was some technical problem. But anything is possible, for example a bird flying into the engine. According to what I know, both pilots ejected," Selak told Index.

"As for the planes, it doesn't matter whether they are new or old. There are no old or new planes, but functioning or malfunctioning ones. There is no way that someone authorized a flight on a malfunctioning plane. Crashes of F-35 planes have even happened, the latest models," added Selak.

2:54 pm
Banožić and Hranj go to the crash site of the MiG

As Index learned, Minister of Defense Mario Banožić and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia Robert Hranj are going to the crash site of the MiG.

2:41 pm
The Ministry of Defense speaks.

"A Croatian Air Force MIG-21 plane crashed during a scheduled training activity on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, before 2:00 p.m. in the area near Slatina in the Virovitica-Podravina County.

All measures and actions were taken in order to find and save the crew, the Ministry of Defense reported. The MIG crashed in an uninhabited wooded area in the Virovitica-Podravina County," the Ministry of Defense announced.

2:40 pm
A MiG crashed near Voćin, an HV (Croatian Army) helicopter went towards the crash site

As Index learned, the MiG crashed somewhere near Voćin, between Daruvar and Slatina, in the Virovitica-Podravine County.

As we know, a helicopter of the Croatian Army went towards the crash site.

It is expected that the police and HGSS will soon join the search.

2:20 pm
A MiG crashed near Daruvar

So far, it is only known that a MiG crashed near Daruvar and that the search for one of the two pilots is ongoing.

The Ministry of Defense confirmed the information.

This article will be updated continuously.

For more, make sure to follow our dedicated News section.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Koncar Revitalising Greek Messochora Plant After 20 Years of Waiting

December the 6th, 2022 - The well known Croatian company Koncar is an internationally recognised leader, and it has been working intensively on the creation of new or the revitalisation of old energy plants for around 100 years now. The revitalisation of a plant in Greece is now in the works.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, in very few segments of the global market does Croatia occupy such a large share as it does in the energy sector, especially in terms of transformers and hydropower plants.

The biggest name in this field is undoubtedly Koncar, which has been working on new or revitalising existing energy capacities for about 100 years, and the latest example of this is over in Greece. To speak more specifically, Koncar recently signed a contract with the Greek electricity company (Public Power Corporation - PPC) in the capital of Athens for the first phase of the revitalisation of the Messochora hydroelectric plant in Greece.

The first phase of the works

Several Koncar Group companies, led by Inzenjering/Engineering (KET), will participate in this Greek revitalisation project. As part of the first phase of the revitalisation of this plant, the testing and analysis of all of the equipment at the hydroelectric power plant will be carried out, and all of the preparatory work will be done for the first commissioning of this plant.

As explained by Gordan Kolak, the president of the Koncar Management Board, the HE Messochora project was initially contracted in the years following the end of the Homeland War, back during a period when the Koncar Group was working very intensively to return to its former markets, which included that of nearby Greece.

"We won't be exaggerating by saying that this particular project was particularly crucial for Inzenjering, but also for other companies from within the wider Koncar Group," said Kolak. It regards a plant with an installed capacity of 2x90 MW, the equipping of which (with all kinds of electromechanical equipment) was contracted by Koncar back in 1996 amid strong international competition on a "turnkey" basis.

The implementation of the project lasted from 1996 to 2002, with Koncar successfully fulfilling all of its contractual obligations, and the equipment was delivered and installed within the given deadlines. However, PPC faced certain administrative problems due to which it could not fill the reservoir with the water required for testing, and ultimately ensure the operation of this plant.

Therefore, in agreement with PPC, the equipment was finally taken over and preserved so that the project could continue when the conditions for it were properly created. Few expected that this would happen only after a twenty whole years, after Koncar, following several months of negotiations with PPC, finally signed the contract by which it returned to this Greek hydroelectric plant.

"Taking into account the attitude of our Greek partner who wants to put this plant into operation with as much originally produced equipment as possible, it's evident that this is an extremely large technological and engineering challenge, because in the meantime, several technological changes have taken place on the market for many types of installed equipment, which is typical for the passage of this amount of time. Therefore, members of Koncar's teams from the original phase of the plant's construction will participate in the work on the ''new'' Messochora. These kinds of challenges are at the very core of Koncar's expertise, performance according to special customer requirements and the adaptation of equipment and systems of different generations,'' said the Zagreb-based company.

To date, Koncar has secured references in as many as 130 markets around the world and delivered more than 400,000 transformers of various types, voltage levels and powers, fully or partially built and revitalised tens of thousands of transformer plants up to 400 kV, as well as 400 hydroelectric power plants, and produced revitalised about 700 generators.

The production of hydrogen generators in their facilities began back in 1947, and the first one was put into operation the following year at the HPP Mariborski otok, which operated successfully for more than forty years.

By 1957, 100 generators had been delivered, and in that very year, the first export job in Pakistan was achieved by Koncar for HE Chichoki Mallian. Their biggest turnkey project took place in 1988, when they delivered equipment for the 295 MW Bechme HPP in Iraq.

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Dubrovnik Marks Anniversary of its Defence, Honours its Defenders

December the 6th, 2022 - The 6th of December 1991 is a date which has burned itself into the eternal memory of the City of Dubrovnik and has become as much a part of its long history as Saint Blaise or Marin Drzic.

What do you think of when you think about the 90's? Maybe you think of the then mobile phone giant Nokia and the phones that could break concrete if dropped, or Haddaway's eternal question about what love is. For many it was a happy time, a time of good music, technological advancement and anticipation of the turn of a brand new century. For others, it was a time of fear, death, oppression and destruction, and for those of us who come from Europe, it was shocking to see such a thing occurring on our doorstep - once again.

The Serbs and their hangers on, the Montenegrins, pressed on with their imperialistic style regime through unfathomable attempts at mass murder, butchering innocent civilians in Srebrenica, in Vukovar, in Skabrnja. Children killed, women raped, men slaughtered and buried in pits, given no more dignity than diseased livestock. Europe had not seen such bloodshed and brutality since Adolf Hitler and his army of black-shirts had reigned. For most people from outside of the former Yugoslavia, the reasons for Serbian aggression were shrouded in mystery, for many, they still are.

It's known to most that both Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia (SFRJ) in 1991 following numerous attempts at gaining political distance and finally through a referendum. The formerly Socialist Republic of Croatia became the Republic of Croatia, an independent state of its very own after what seemed to many like an eternity under a cruel and unyielding Yugoslav thumb. That was about as much as those lucky enough not to be involved knew about the situation which led to the above.

On the 6th December 1991, Dubrovnik was viciously attacked by the JNA (Yugoslav Peoples Army), it was the culmination of a siege which sought to raze the globally adored UNESCO World Heritage Site to the ground. A similar and unfortunately successful action was seen much more recently in Palmyra at the hands of ISIS. The horrific bombardment of Dubrovnik resulted in international condemnation of the JNA and rightly became a public relations disaster for Serbia and Montenegro, contributing to and furthering their diplomatic and economic isolation and winning them powerful enemies across Europe and the rest of the world. It was a shot in the foot from which the still-estranged Serbia has hardly ever recovered in the eyes of the international community, and rightly so.

To go into it a little more deeply, the JNA was composed primarily of Serbian nationals, and it was no accident that they targeted a location which had been totally demilitarised back in the 1970's to try to prevent it from ever becoming a war casualty. The JNA's barbaric attack on the beloved UNESCO city of Dubrovnik was met with international condemnation and political outcry, resulting in the aforementioned isolation of Serbia. Threats to Serbia from numerous powerful European politicians echoed around the globe, the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher famously stood defiantly by Croatia, claiming publicly that had it been up to her, she would have bombed Belgrade immediately.

The attack lasted seven long months, the heaviest attack took place on this day, the 6th of December (now celebrated as the Day of the Defenders in Dubrovnik), killing 19 people and wounding another 60. Artillery attacks on Dubrovnik damaged 56% of its buildings, and the Old City was the innocent victim of 650 shells. Neighbouring Montenegro grew ever hostile, led by President Momir Bulatovic and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic who rose to power following the popular anti-bureaucratic revolution, the nation was allied to the fanatical Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. It was declared that Dubrovnik would not remain in Croatia, with both of these nations who have since failed miserably in comparison to Croatia falsely claiming that it had never been a part of Croatia at all. The war ended with Croatian victory, earned with blood, with the siege lifted in May 1992. The Croatian Army liberated Dubrovnik and its surroundings, but the danger of sudden attacks from the internationally villified JNA remained a threat for a further three years.

The cruel and unjustified siege and naval blockade by the JNA and the Yugoslav Navy resulted in the direct deaths of between 82 and 88 civilians and 194 Croatian military personnel. By the end of the bloody year of 1992, when the entire region was recaptured by the HV, 417 Croatian Army (HV) troops were dead. Approximately 19,000 refugees were displaced. 11,425 buildings suffered varying degrees of damage, numerous homes, businesses, and public buildings were torched and property was looted by the JNA and their Montenegrin counterparts. In 2000, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic apologised for his country's part in this utterly devastating attack, prompting anger from his political rivals and feelings of betrayal from the still very much isolated and globally condemned, small nation of Serbia.

Today, Dubrovnik is known across the world as an enviably successful tourism giant which has to do very little but lie on its laurels. A far cry now from a war zone without running water and electricity, outside of the summer months, the Pearl of the Adriatic sits relatively silenty in its peace, with only mere calls of seagulls and anchors of ships cutting through that hard-earned silence. It has won many titles since that awful day, and gained many nicknames, from the fictional Kings Landing and Naboo, to the non-fictional Pearl of the Adriatic. A lifetime has passed since those dark says, and the costly mask the city so perfectly wears would never reveal its wounds, its pain or its suffering to the untrained and naive eye.

Following the war, damage was repaired adhering to UNESCO guidelines between 1995 and 1999. The ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) issued indictments for the JNA Generals and officers involved in the disgraceful siege of Dubrovnik, with the architect of the attack, General Pavle Strugar sentenced for his role. Strugar passed away in 2018, and while one shouldn't speak ill of the dead, it doesn't seem appropriate to hope his rest is a peaceful one.

For more on Croatian history, keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Croatian Lighting Design for Vatican Nativity Scene, Controlled from Pula

December 6, 2022 - Few have the opportunity to come up with a solution for lighting the Vatican nativity scene with 18 life-size statues that adorn St. Peter's Square. This year, that honour went to the Pula company specialising in lighting design, Skira.

As HRT / Poslovni report, illuminating the scene of the birth of Jesus in the main Vatican square with the help of seventy invisible lighting fixtures is a real technological feat.

"I suggested making a circle in the floor of the stage, cutting it all into an ellipse, painting it matte black, and hiding all the spotlights underneath," explained Dean Skira, lighting designer.

It was also necessary to coordinate the light with the music to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. "We created the scenography so that the children appear first, then everything else, sculptures of people who are in the story around the birth of Jesus," explained Skira.

Preparations for this demanding project took months because each reflector has its own effect. "There is a timeline of how the effects take place, and various effects are superimposed that rotate in real-time," said Božidar Pustijanac, the designer.

It is unbelievable that the lighting of the Vatican nativity scene can be controlled from Pula, all using just a mobile phone. "Each statue can be viewed separately, each reflector is separate, now everything is turned off because it's daytime, I can light each separately, I can do whatever I want," said Godvin Poropat, the designer.

The lighting was ceremoniously switched on the day before yesterday, and the Pope himself received the representatives of the Pula company. "I must say that it is an experience that goes beyond the professional segment of my life. It is a very significant spiritual moment that happened when I met the Pope and when he shook my hand. I am very proud that we Croats had the opportunity to participate in such an important event", emphasised Skira.

This is an excellent recognition for the Pula company, which already has forty international awards for projects worldwide.

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

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