Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Slavonia 365: Meet Zoran Simunovic, Osijek Artist of International Fame

January 10, 2023 - His career took off on the international scene, and he started producing artsy rugs to encourage local production in Vukovar. Zoran Simunovic is an up-and-coming artist from Osijek, a curator of the Vukovar Municipal Museum, and an all-round awesome tattooed human.

As Vecernji writes, those who appreciate the painting of gestural abstraction of high modernism of European provenance and the works of Pierre Soulages, Hans Hartung, or Edo Murtić will recognise, said Branko Franceschi at one time, the basic performance principles that build the solid core of the composition of the painter Zoran Simunovic. The derived characters were inspired by real life and create spaces of memory and nostalgia based on the transparent display of recognisable objects, almost fetishes, such as motifs of toys: teddy bears, trains, or bananas that his son Oskar loves. Every corner of his work of art is personalised and bears a mark that conveys memories and passion for home. Seemingly unimportant figurines, plants, and fruits become important because they are recorded on the canvases as artifacts of his becoming. They seem to almost float in the composition, concentrating in the centre of the painting, letting the colours completely occupy the edges of the canvas. His paintings, thus, halfway between figuration and abstraction, take on a strong narrative character and tell stories with a small dose of humour and a lot of poetry.

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"My home is full of details. In essence, the observer is directly involved in the creation of the work through fragments of their growing up and their most beautiful memories, precisely their childhood. It is sometimes difficult for artists to expose their intimacy and show it to the world, but I have no problem with that", said the artist himself, who is well known on the local cultural scene. A native of Osijek, curator of the Vukovar Municipal Museum, and a true Slavonian addicted to tattoos. An eternal optimist who, as he says himself, does not see the world through rose-tinted glasses but through rose-tinted eyes. This can be seen in his paintings and the optimism they radiate, and there are currently additional reasons for a rosy mood, as his career has been on an upward international trajectory for some time, and his paintings have just been exhibited in the Vienna gallery District 4 Art.

"District 4 Art is one of the foreign galleries representing me as an author, and as part of its activities, it also prepares exhibitions. Negotiations with them began at the suggestion of my friend, collector Milan Krivda, and after a quick agreement, they resulted in successful and pleasant cooperation. Basically, many people are interested in my works, among them are some celebrities, but discretion is highly valued in this business, so I would rather not go into details", Zoran Simunovic answered somewhat self-deprecatingly when asked about stars from the world of art who became interested in his playful oils on canvas, primarily in large formats, which fetch up to 20,000 euros on the European market.

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What is the profile of the people who are the majority of Zoran's customers? "Their profile is quite diverse. Moreover, today it is extremely difficult to assess who a potential customer is. You'd have clients who simply want to treat themselves to one of my works, while on the other hand, there are clients who are serious collectors and invest in the future. What pleases me the most is that all my clients, regardless of which group they come from, buy my paintings primarily because they enjoy them. In this context, I have to be proud that all my paintings they bought are on their walls and exposed to the view, and not waiting in some dark warehouse for a higher market price", says the artist.

He also exhibited a novelty in Vienna - the rugs he makes in Vukovar, and on which he copies the motifs of his paintings. It turned out to be an excellent decision, he says, because the reactions were more than positive. The story of his breakthrough into art is well known, but since repetition is the mother of wisdom: He was born in 1984 in Nuštar as the son of a farmer and grew up on a large farm where wheat, barley, corn, and rapeseed are grown. He spent his childhood, he recalls, in a tractor and forklift, helping his family in the fields. His parents wanted him to run the family business, so he enrolled at the Faculty of Agriculture, but he soon realised it was not the right path for him and left it after only one year. His wife Ivana played a key role, and after seeing some of his drawings, she persuaded him to enroll in the Academy of Fine Arts. That decision changed his life forever; he discovered his passion for art and creation, which he says is his greatest blessing.

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In 2008, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Široki Brijeg, graduated in 2013 in the class of Professor Antun Boris Svaljek, and then got a job as a curator at the Vukovar Municipal Museum, where he develops a playful cultural program aimed at a younger audience. "My job as curator of the Vukovar museum is the best job in the world. I cooperate with many artists, institutions, museums, and embassies, which helped me a lot and influenced the development of my artistic career. The artist and the museum need each other, and I achieved a perfect synthesis of both. I try to work professionally in both fields; both of my jobs are extremely creative; they connect and complement each other perfectly", says Zoran Simunovic.

In private life, he defines himself as a hedonist – he loves beautiful things and lives life with pleasure. He pays special attention to his image, it is part of the whole package, and he has a special passion for tattoos. His body is an extension of the painter's canvas, he tattoos himself, and each tattoo is a piece in the creation of a unique work, a project that, he says, will never be finished and will grow with him.

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As for Osijek's art scene, he is satisfied and does not complain about Zagreb's centralisation, which many point out as a problem. "There are different profiles of artists as well as their art worlds. I believe that every region offers several good authors, including the east of Croatia. Osijek, as the centre of Slavonia and Baranja, offers both authors and audiences a wide choice. I am convinced that there is enough space for all high-quality artists from all artistic fields to find their place under the sun, wherever it may be", he said. Asked about a potential business offer that might one day prompt him to move from Slavonia, he continued: "I love Slavonia. It is my home. As a city, Osijek offers absolutely everything you need for a pleasant and quality life. Never say never, though. For now, I have no intention of leaving my home, but life may have other plans for me.

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Rugs have become an extension of his painting canvas. The quirky design of rugs with a crazy character is an absolute trend in interior design. Zoran Simunovic recognised this and translated his pictures into unique artsy rugs. "The rugs are something new that I made. After ten years of activity, I felt the need to express myself artistically in a different way. Rugs are perfect for me because it is widely known that I am a big fan of product design and that, among other things, I show interiors in my paintings. So I transferred my paintings to a piece of furniture because these rugs are segments of my paintings. Also, it was important to me that all production work be carried out at the local level to encourage each other to grow. I was also very surprised when I discovered that in Vukovar, it was possible to make a personalised carpet from high-quality wool that meets all aesthetic and quality standards", said Simunovic.

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Euro Croatia Price Increase: Politician Kreso Beljak Shopping Across Border

January the 10th, 2023 - Croatian politician Kreso Beljak, who has been the President of the Croatian Peasant Party since back in 2016, has openly admitted to crossing the Slovenian border to do his shopping since the euro Croatia price increase issue has become so apparent.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, while appearing as a recent guest of N1 studio, the President of the Croatian Peasant Party, Kreso Beljak, commented on the situation that is currently on everyone's lips - the very obvious euro Croatia price increase. Beljak says that he isn't surprised by any of these price increases: "Prices of items are determined by the market, and I'm not surprised that prices have risen. Obviously, the demand is like that. It's a simple rule of the market economy - the higher the demand for something is, the higher the price for it will be,"

That said, he made no effort to hide the fact that he thinks that the difference in prices between Croatia and neighbouring Slovenia is no less than shameful: "Personally, it doesn't matter to me or the people in Samobor if we go to Zagreb or Slovenia to do our shopping. In Slovenia, instead of 100 euros, I spent 70. My wife was on the phone to be back in Samobor comparing the prices. It's shameful,'' Beljak stated.

However, and rather surprisingly, Beljak doesn't really blame Plenkovic for this situation. "This situation is unsustainable, but to blame politics for it in the 21st century in a market economy, well... that's what we wanted in the 90s. We wanted the market to determine the price, not for the state to conduct it all. I do blame Plenković for another situation, though, he tries to get involved with things that politics shouldn't be involving itself with. The political spectrum should be dealing with the growth of salaries, pensions, tax relief, the reduction of levies and so forth. Plenkovic and HDZ do none of this. And that's another reason why our purchasing power is weak."

"If someone wants to buy something - that's a matter of the market. The market forms the prices, not the state. The state is there to ensure a higher salary, to make so people are able to buy more in such cases. The state needs to reduce the taxes and levies so that net wages rise, and as such, peoples' purchasing power."

When asked about blacklists for companies taking advantage of the euro Croatia price increase trend, Beljak explained: "Now it can be seen that certain omissions have been made. I think the intention was good in regard to giving people a period of two weeks, which now turns out to have complicated the situation even more. The euro should have been introduced on January the 1st, 2023, and kuna should have immediately been made so it exchanged for euros in banks for a period of one year."

"In general, I'm talking about a system that doesn't work, about an HDZ that doesn't work. It's hard to expect that such a party that simply doesn't care about people in the slightest would even think of doing anything to help or protect them. Plenkovic is now busy rubbing his hands together, and so is his finance minister, because every euro Croatia price increase is an increase in VAT and a bigger payment into the state budget,'' Beljak concluded, noting that HDZ wants more money for ''uhljebs''.

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Karlovac Among First Cities in Europe With Low-Carbon District

January the 10th, 2023 - The Croatian city of Karlovac (close to Zagreb) has become one of the very first cities in all of Europe to boast an impressive low-carbon district of its own.

As Darko Bicak/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, to be more specific, the Regional Energy Agency of Northwest Croatia (REGEA) was one of the partners in the Interreg Europe LC DISTRICTS project, which gave life to Karlovac becoming one of the first cities in Europe of this kind.

The goal of the project was to intervene in the selected strategic document in order to take a step towards the decarbonisation of city districts as we move towards a greener future. As was pointed out, in partnership with the City of Karlovac, the aforementioned agency managed to tale a significant step forward in the overall decarbonisation process by dealing with energy and climate elements in spatial plans.

A brave political decision

"In cooperation with the cities of Northwestern Croatia, with the City of Karlovac as a leader, we recognised spatial plans as one of the key policy documents that can be a trigger or a brake on the decarbonisation of neighbourhoods and cities. Spatial plans are in firmly the hands of local and regional authorities and can be considered as a tool to encourage this transition. Together with the city officials, we decided to develop a plan for a district that will be sustainable, energy efficient and resistant to climate change," they stated from REGEA, headed by director Julije Domac, adding that choosing to head down this particular path was a brave political decision because it meant a sharp change in the current practice. REGEA made all the necessary analyses and suggested how the measures that already existed in the action plans for energy sustainable development and adaptation to climate change (SECAP) of the City of Karlovac should be implemented in the overall spatial plan.

The pilot project itself was designed for the area of the Luscic Urban Development Plan zone. After the initial analyses, REGEA proposed a series of measures to ensure the low-carbon development of the district and its resistance to the effects of climate change to the local powers that be in Karlovac. A process of change followed, in which all city offices, city-owned companies, the academic and business community, non-governmental organisations and individuals were involved.

The result of the process was a spatial plan that was approved by the City Council and which, as the first in all of Croatia, and probably among the first in Europe, paves the way for the sustainability and resistance of a neighbourhood to the constant threat of climate change.

Some of the key features of the wider Karlovac plan are a complete ban on fossil fuels for heating purposes - no natural gas network is foreseen, energy for heating will only come from district heating or heat pumps (which is currently above the national standard in the use of renewable energy sources), and nature-based solutions regarding adaptation to climate change will be encouraged. All of this was done by REGEA in cooperation with the City of Karlovac as part of the wider European LC District project.

Cooperation with ministries

Participation in the LC Districts project enabled the REGEA team to gain insight into good practices from Sweden, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic. Karlovac, led by Mayor Damir Mandic, therefore represents a pioneering venture here in the Republic of Croatia and will serve as an example of decarbonisation for other city districts throughout the country.

REGEA is now working with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Construction to help them implement the steps learned during this process into strategic documents with the aim of facilitating the energy transition, adapting to the effects of climate change and increasing the resilience of local or regional self-government units.

"Even though this may only be a small step at the level of the overall work which lies ahead of us, it's certainly a big one, as it represents the first successful implementation of decarbonisation in a spatial plan", they concluded from REGEA.

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Split-Dalmatia County IT Entrepreneurship Encouraged with Cash Sums

January the 10th, 2023 - A generous non-refundable cash sum has been provided to boost Split-Dalmatia County IT entrepreneurship. Hefty individual amounts of that cash will be being awarded in the form of grants to encourage such entrepreneurship in the country's largest county.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, despite not remotely encompassing the capital city of Zagreb, Split-Dalmatia County is the largest county in all of Croatia, and it is set to award handsome grants to encourage Split-Dalmatia County IT entrepreneurship in the wider area. As a boost to those who work in this blossoming field, fifteen prizes in the amount of 50,000 kuna to 200,000 kuna (over 6,500 euros and over 26,500 euros respectively) will be awarded to the best projects.

The highest amount, 200,000 kuna, will be awarded for the first prize, 100,000 kuna for the second, 90,000 kuna for the third, and 50,000 kuna for the remaining twelve prizes, which comes to a total of 990,000 kuna.

The applicants must be business entities which are currently in the process of developing an IT product or service with their headquarters registered somewhere within the scope of Split-Dalmatia County, and they must have been registered for a maximum of sixty months.

The applicants must be registered as trades, simple limited liability companies (j.d.o.o.) or limited liability companies (d.o.o.), i.e. small business entities established by the law which establishes the encouragement of small business development that are entirely privately owned, operate and have a registered headquarters in Split-Dalmatia County.

The county will award grants based on a public tender that will remain open until the end of January 2023. More detailed information on these Split-Dalmatia County IT entreprenership grants is available on the county's official website.

For more on Croatian companies, innovation and entrepreneurs, make sure to check out our dedicated business section

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Croatian Unicorns Blossom Despite Poor Business Climate, Corruption

January the 10th, 2023 - Croatian unicorns have been rightfully praised for continuing to not only grow but to truly blossom in an environment which can hardly be called encouraging. Despite an unfavourable business climate and with corruption still causing significant issues, Croatia deserves praise.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, some of the most highly regarded countries in the world have become aware over the last few decades that the well-being of every nation, as well as their security, depend on STEM achievements,'' explains Boris Podobnik, professor of economics and vice dean for research at ZŠEM, a researcher at the Center for Polymer Studies at the University of Boston, and professor of mathematics at the University of Rijeka.

That's all well and good being said, but precisely how do STEM disciplines affect equality or inequality? Podobnik was further motivated to ask this question by economist Joseph Stiglitz, who stated in his book "The Price of Profit" that a rather small portion of companies actually control entire economic sectors and contribute to the dizzying growth of inequality.

"Although it's clear that today it's STEM fields that drive innovation in the economy and in social relations, we aren't yet fully aware of the extent to which STEM education quantitatively contributes to economic inequality and how STEM and non-STEM companies behave during an economic crisis or in a pandemic,'' points out Podobnik, who together with his colleagues - Marina Dabic, Dorian Wild and Tiziana Di Matteo - investigated the impact of STEM on the growth of wealth at the level of individuals and companies.

They also analysed the operations of STEM companies during the global coronavirus pandemic in a scientific paper entitled: "The impact of STEM on the growth of wealth at different levels, from individuals to companies and countries: The operations of STEM companies during the pandemic in different markets".

"At the company level, we've shown that inequality in STEM companies is greater than it is in non-STEM companies, and this is also true for individuals," Podobnik revealed when discussing the results of the research.

What does the Forbes list say?

They came to their results by analysing companies included in the American S&P 500 and the German and French DAX and CAC40. As for individuals, they analysed the Forbes list of the richest people in the world.

That list, Podobnik says, that is, those included in it, reveals yet another rather interesting fact. It turns out that in Data Science, formal education no longer plays an important role, as evidenced by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who went to STEM college, but didn't finish it. Despite this, researchers still treated them as STEM graduates.

"Today, if you solve a big problem in data science, and you don't have a formal education, you'll be accepted not only in every American company, but you'll also be easily appointed as a lecturer at elite faculties. This is valid only in Data Science, not in physics or economics, and it's still a warning and a threat to the education system," points out Podobnik.

The analysis of STEM companies' operations during the coronavirus pandemic also showcases some very interesting results. It proves that American companies from the STEM field, which are included in the S&P 500, have shown better results than non-STEM companies both in times of expansion and during the pandemic.

We can explain this, Podobnik points out, by the fact that STEM companies have better chances in the long run because it is precisely innovations that push the economy forward. "And we naturally associate innovation more with STEM," he adds. However, such results haven't been shown by the analysed European companies. For example, the analysis shows that STEM companies included in the German DAX index in the period of economic expansion don't show better results than non-STEM companies.

"This is probably because America is an attractor for real STEM high-tech companies, while Europe isn't. Can you think of any large European company that is at the level of Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Intel, Netflix, or Amazon?'' asks Podobnik. Indeed, Europe today doesn't have a single technology company that can compete with any one of those from the USA, or even with those based in China. This is the case, explains the professor, because America has about twenty times more venture capital per capita than there is in the whole of the EU. In addition, the USA has stronger universities, so it shouldn't really be surprising that all great innovations come from there.

"Europe prefers mediocrity a little bit too much, and here the average is looked at too much, there's therefore no room for rare events that give way to great technological innovations in the same way that has been done in companies that we've all heard of by now. There are very few highly innovative companies based in the EU, and that's why there is little difference between STEM and non-STEM companies here," points out Podobnik.

Croatian unicorns are therefore quite miraculous indeed...

In such an environment, Croatian unicorns and some of what has been happening over more recent years with numerous domestic companies is actually a real miracle, Podobnik notes, because despite the bad business environment, high levels of corruption and a generall poor attitude towards entrepreneurship, there are two wildly successful Croatian unicorns. "For comparison, Denmark and Italy don't have a single one," he notes.

So, even though research shows that STEM contributes to the growth of inequality, the fact remains that technological development, which is mostly based on STEM disciplines, is unstoppable anyway. The pursuit of equality will not stop this development, and the fruits will be reaped by those who do decide to invest in STEM innovations.

"Society must be the one to deal with equality, it just needs to have the right measure to do so. Too much equality leaves no room for the innovation of those who actually are geniuses. However, what is ideal or optimal inequality remains a big unknown," says Podobnik, noting that complete equality of everything is characteristic of communism, a model that proved to be astonishingly economically ineffective. On the completely different side is absolute libertarianism, which does not need the state at all - two wings on the same bird.

"Both extremes are bad ideas, meaning that the optimum lies somewhere in between the two. But the question of all questions is where that optimum is. Society, therefore, takes from the more successful and gives to the less successful, but the question is how much is optimal, that is, how much can you take from the more successful, without destroying the space for innovation of the most successful and most ingenious?'' Professor Podobnik warns.

Here in Europe, on the other hand, he believes, we definitely haven't been able to find that optimum. "Europe has gone too far in the direction of socialism, where the emphasis is placed only on equality and on trying to achieve a good life for everyone. European societies are too standardised, and the more restrictions there are, the less space there is for the degrees of freedom that are essential for new technological innovations to come about.

Europe has clearly not found the right balance between taking care of the majority of people and taking care of those who are indeed the most inventive, whose inventions would keep Europe in the world as a place of wealth and technological progress. Today, we all know that due to the policy of excessive taxes and regulations, the EU is rapidly falling behind America and China. So, did we need the war in Ukraine to decide to produce our own chips? Taiwan can do it, but the EU can't!? That's pretty poor," he warns.

Europe, and therefore Croatia, remains the guardian of old, outdated industries

And while Europe, the custodian of old and heavy industry, is lagging behind thanks to its policies, China, much like America, has long understood what will be the key to economic growth and development. China, points out Podobnik, has targeted students in STEM fields more and more over recent decades.

"Back in 2013, 40 percent of students in China graduated with a STEM degree, twice as many as in the US. This is probably one of the main reasons why China was able to surpass the US in terms of GDP measured by purchasing power parity some five years ago,'' Podobnik explained.

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

Monday, 9 January 2023

Work Croatia: Four Day Work Week Unlikely to Become Common Any Time Soon

January 9, 2023 - Work Croatia: a four-day work week is the desire of a growing number of young people in Croatia who strive to balance work and private life, while employers say that there are no legal obstacles to its introduction. Trade unions warn to be careful and avoid the ten-hour workday.

As Index writes, in the four-day organisation of the working week, employees work eight hours on four days while receiving wages for five days. The number of working hours per week is therefore reduced from 40 to 32.

The idea of shortening the working week is not so new, and the pioneer, as in many other industrial solutions, was Henry Ford.

In 1926, he shortened the working week in his factories from six to five days. Ford realized that if a worker has a weekend, i.e., two days off, they would want to buy a car to go somewhere. He realized that people need more time to spend the money they earn, and he wanted to sell as many cars as possible to his workers.

The eight-hour workday became a practice in the 1940s

Although many thought such a move would reduce productivity, the opposite happened. Workers have shown greater productivity and loyalty than before.

Ford's move reverberated across America and sparked many strikes in which workers demanded a five-day work week.

Since the early 1940s, the eight-hour workday and 40-hour work week have become standard practice in various industries worldwide.

This will take decades, but due to the progress of technology, and recently the pandemic and working from home, as well as the abandonment of overtime by millennials and generation Z, the idea of further shortening the work week is starting to gain momentum. In some countries and industries, the lack of workers also forces employers to shorten the working week.

Croatian trade unionists: Strive for a balance between private life and work

The four-day work week is also being discussed in Croatia. A lot of companies have introduced working from home, and most of them are in the IT sector, which allows more work flexibility compared to other industries.

The president of the Independent Croatian Trade Unions, Krešimir Sever, warns that the four-day work week should not be organized into four days of ten working hours.

"After a ten-hour working day, the worker does not have time for anything else in that working day," says Sever for Hina and points out that the implementation of the four-day working week would only be good if the working hours were shortened from 40 to 32 hours, but he claims that this would be difficult to do in Croatia.

"Employers would not react well because even now they complain when we advocate reducing working hours," he says.

One should strive for a balance between private life and work because a well-rested man who has time for himself in addition to his work will probably refuse other people's job offers or if they offer a raise, according to Sever.

Employers: There is no formal obstacle

The Croatian Employers'  Association (HUP) says that the introduction of a four-day work week has long been allowed, but the Labor Act defines a full working week as 40 hours, and the employer can divide it into four, five, or six days.

If the employer wants to introduce a four-day work week, they say there are no obstacles to that.

"If there is an agreement between the employee and the employer to work 35 hours a week, or four days a week, there is no reason to prevent such work organization by legal provisions; however, the same should apply to the agreement if there is an interest of both parties, to work even more working hours than 'prescribed'", they say from HUP.

They note that the pandemic accelerated digitalization and brought significant changes in work organization, such as remote work, and a greater understanding of the balance between private life and work.

The development of technology has brought platform work, job or employee sharing, casual work, or voucher work. All these forms of work are a reality, and should not be administratively restricted, says the HUP.

"At the same time, we face a significant labor shortage, primarily due to demographic processes. In such a situation, it is necessary to enable significantly greater flexibility for workers and employers," they said.

HUP: Croats actually work 37.5 hours a week

That is why HUP insists on adopting new legal solutions that will reflect the actual situation in the labor market.

Since Croatia is oriented towards tourism, employers say it is difficult to shorten the working week due to the smaller workforce.

"All this, of course, should not prevent companies that realize a shift in productivity and can offer more flexible working conditions to reduce the number of working days and thus invest in the satisfaction of their employees," they say in HUP.

They note that in Croatia, the daily break is included in the working hours, which is not the case in most other EU countries, so Croats actually currently formally work 37.5 hours a week.

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

Monday, 9 January 2023

Euro Croatia: Reasons Why Same Products are Cheaper in Slovenia

January 9, 2023 - Euro Croatia: although their wages are twice or three times higher than the Croatian average, the Germans, the French, and even the neighbour Slovenians spend 30, and for some products, up to 40 percent less money than Croatians for a variety of grocery items.

Slobodan Školnik, an expert on retail prices, comments on the reasons why: "Because our weak economy has to bear the heavy burden of an inefficient public sector and the state, which is too expensive for an economy at this stage of development, and all of this must be incorporated into prices and the lower standard of citizens."

If we take 450 grams of coffee as an example, we will pay 2 euros and 30 cents more in the same retail chain in Croatia. Croatia will be more expensive with cheese, where the difference is one euro and 72 cents. Eggs are 90 cents cheaper for our neigbours, ajvar 86 cents, and pasta is 56 cents cheaper. We would pay 11 euros and 75 cents for these five items in Slovenia and more than 18 euros in Croatia. This is a difference of almost six and a half euros for only five products, write Danas.hr / Poslovni.

Lower tax burdens

"It depends on supply chains, it depends on importers, distributors, who do their calculations; I don't think it's a problem with traders," says Ivica Katavić, president of the HGK Trade Association.

Many factors influence the differences in price, and cheaper shopping in Slovenia is primarily due to lower VAT.

"Slovenia has a lower tax burden on most products of daily consumption, the basic VAT rate is lower than in Croatia, especially food products rates, they are 9.5 percent, so significantly lower than in Croatia.", says Damir Novotny, an economic analyst.

An aggravating factor is that Croatia has almost completely neglected the processing industry and is dependent on imports, which further increases the price of food and high logistics costs.

"This means it is easier to supply the Slovenian market than the Croatian market. There are significant differences in prices between, say, Osijek and Dubrovnik - in some places, it will be three times more expensive due to logistics costs," adds Novotny.

So, going to the grocery store for basic groceries seems more and more like a luxury game.

"Some follow, some don't. Some make a mistake and set a price that is too high and then have to correct it, but sooner or later, the market solves everything where there is competition, and in Croatia, there is fierce competition", adds Školnik.

The problem could be that, at least for now, none of the retailers are announcing lower prices, but quite the opposite – a new wave of price increases.

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

Monday, 9 January 2023

Ryanair Leaves Passengers of Zagreb Flight Stranded in Airport Corridor

January 9, 2023 - The famous Irish low-budget flight operator, Ryanair leaves passengers stranded. Several Ryanair passengers missed their flight last week after being locked in a windowless airport corridor. The flight from London's Stansted to Zagreb took off, leaving 23 passengers behind after both sides of the aisle were locked, trapping the passengers inside.

"The children were crying; it became claustrophobic."

As Index / The Evening Standard / Business Insider write, a Ryanair spokesperson commented that there was a "human error," which meant passengers could not "exit the pre-boarding door" and unfortunately missed their flight. Devina Raval, one of the passengers who said she was trapped in the corridor, told MyLondon she felt like she was being "held hostage." Insider could not immediately reach Raval for comment.

People were banging on the walls calling for help, Raval told MyLondon. "Kids were crying, and the whole place became really claustrophobic. It scares me to think what would happen if someone had a heart attack or something."

After about half an hour, one of the passengers set off the fire alarm, alerting a member of staff who asked them what they were doing in the corridor. "At that moment, I was just shocked that they didn't realise we were there. We were told the plane took off without us," added Raval.

Ryanair claims human error

The passengers were sent to a nearby hotel for the night and boarded a flight to Croatia on the following day at 6 a.m.

"Due to human error by staff at London Stansted Airport, a small number of passengers were unable to exit through the pre-boarding gate and unfortunately missed their flight to Zagreb (January 2). The error was caught when the flight had already taken off," a Ryanair spokesperson told Business Insider.

"Ryanair has provided overnight accommodation for the affected passengers and moved them on the next available flights," the airline said in a statement.

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

Monday, 9 January 2023

Crni Macak, a Zagreb Cafe That Got Cheaper with Euro Entry

January 9, 2023 - As countless stories of increased prices in Croatia circulate with the adoption of the euro, meet a lucky black cat cafe in Zagreb, where things just got a little cheaper - Crni Macak. 

Along with many other people who had a longer association with Culture Club Mesnicka, I was very saddened when the owner announced suddenly that the iconic cafe and alternative music venue, which also happened to be my local for the previous year, announced that it was closing, as previously reported on TCN

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Wonderful people, great events, perfect vibe. And I had only been in the neighborhood for a year, so I can only imagine what true locals felt about the closure. Thankfully, I hear that they have reopened elsewhere (if someone wants to let me know where, I will add to this article and pay a visit). And of course, in addition to being sad to see them go, it left me without a local. After years of driving all over the country to meetings - many of them in Zagreb - for a blissful year, I could organise coffee meetings just a couple of minutes from my front door. 

Weeks went by until suddenly, just before New Year, the premises reopened, with a new name - Crni Macak (Black Cat). It had a different vibe, and a younger feel, but it still had lots of the charm, as well as the board games that had been there previously. There is something civilised about popping out for a pint and a game of chess. 

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I popped in for a pint on New Year's Eve to meet a friend and was pleasantly surprised to find that the price of my staple at that pub - a cool Niksicko bottle - was 2 kuna cheaper than before at 19 kuna, a fine start. I took a photo of the bill, for I was curious to see and document how much the price would go up the next day, as Croatia entered the Euro. There were certainly plenty of price hikes elsewhere. 

I popped down last night for the first time for a cold one after a long day of vlogging and blogging (maybe a combined term could be flogging, as I was exhausted) and ordered the same. How much more was this going to cost me than a week ago?

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To my VERY pleasant surprise, the price of my pint had got cheaper, down from 19 kuna to 18.84. A small reduction, perhaps, but a nice gesture from the Crni Macak team to round kuna prices down rather than up to match the new euro price. 2.50 euro for a pint in my local - I can certainly live with that. 

I thanked the waitress for the pricing and asked if I could publish the two bills. She explained that they had wanted to keep the prices down and explained what Crni Macak was - the reason why the clientele was a little younger, as explained on their Facebook page:

A welcoming bar dedicated to SF, fantasy, gaming, board-gaming culture and all gaming-related things.

The first in Zagreb apparently. The cafe is a real warren of rooms, and that made it excellent for previous niche concerts. Those rooms are now given over to Dungeons and Dragons (is that still a thing, asks this Boomer?) and a host of other games - both online and off. 

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There is a lively list of events through the month of January. I can't say that it is particularly my scene, but I do wish these guys the very best. 

And to have a local bar for my meetings and general unwinding - and at a reasonable price (a beer is 5 euro just 50 metres away) in such a good location, well - 2023 started well. 

You can follow the lively programme of events on the Crni Macak Facebook page.  

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Monday, 9 January 2023

Croatia Cup 2023: Croatia Wins Poreč Tournament as Last Test before Handball World Champs

January 9, 2023 - The Croatia men's handball team beat Israel 37:23 on Sunday in Poreč to win the Croatia Cup 2023, their final preparation before the Handball World Championships begin this week!

The Croatia men's handball team defeated Israel in the 3rd round of the Croatia Cup 2023 (37:23) to win the tournament! It was Croatia's last test before the Handball World Championships, which starts this week in Sweden and Poland. Croatia plays in Group G against Egypt, the USA, and Morocco.

Compared to Croatia's first match against North Macedonia at the start of the tournament, coach Hrvoje Horvat left Mate Šunjić and Nikola Grahovac in the stands, and Dino Slavić and Leon Šušnja were in the lineup. Recall Croatia beat North Macedonia 40:34 at the opening of the Croatia Cup, and North Macedonia defeated Israel 38:37 in the 2nd round. 

Croatia's starting lineup against Israel featured Dino Slavić in goal, Lovro Mihić and Paolo Kraljević on the wings, and Željko Musa, Domagoj Duvnjak, Igor Karačić, and Ivan Martinović. 

Croatia took 10 minutes to find their rhythm, after which they took a 7:3 lead. At halftime, they were up by 10 points (20:10). Six minutes before the end of the game, Croatia was up by 13 points (34:21), and in the end, the game finished 37:23.

Croatia was led by Ivan Martinović with eight goals, while Luka Cindrić scored six and Igor Karačić scored five. For Israel, Adir Cohen was the top scorer with eight goals.

The Croatian Handball Federation and Sportske Novosti also presented the best players of 2022 during halftime. Ana Debelić was named the best female handball player for the second year, while Luka Cindrić was again named the best male handball player. 

Croatia will play its first match at the World Championships on Friday, January 13 (8:30 pm) against the national team of Egypt. You can find Croatia's schedule below.

Group G (Jönköping)

1st round, January 13
18:00 Morocco - United States of America
20:30 Egypt - CROATIA

2nd round, January 15
18:00 Egypt - Morocco
20:30 CROATIA - United States of America

3rd round, January 17
18:00 United States of America - Egypt
20:30 CROATIA - Morocco

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

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