Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
Before the afternoon rains as predicted hit the Dubrovnik it was a lovely morning to stroll in the Old City and catch up on some Christmas shopping.
With blue skies and bright sunshine if a little chilly the Stradun was alive with a mix of tourists and locals soaking up the Dubrovnik festive atmosphere.
The late afternoon rain rather spoiled the fun but the sunshine will be back on Sunday with highs around 12 degrees expected.
Are you going black this Christmas or is it still the traditional green fur for you? The hit this year in the USA is, believe it or not, black Christmas trees. This unusual colour for a festive tree is trending in the States with stores reporting a huge increase in interest. According to a report by ABC News “black Christmas trees are proving to be the unlikely heroes of this holiday season.”
Black Christmas trees on Instagram
Croatians still generally plump for traditional green Christmas trees to brighten up their homes over the holidays and these black versions aren’t on sale at any Croatian stores. However, they can be purchased online and one retail outlet in the States has reported that sales of black Christmas trees are up 16 percent on last year and searches for black Christmas trees for sale are up 70 percent on 2017.
There are nearly 9,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #blackchristmastree. On Pinterest, one black Christmas tree pin alone has been saved 12,000 times.
From January 2020 Croatia will hold the six-month leadership of the Council of the European Union and the Croatian President sees this as an ideal opportunity to consider expansion of the EU member states.
In May 2020 a summit will be held on European Union enlargement, this will be the first time ever that such a summit has been held.
A summit focusing on EU enlargement will be organised in that time. It will most likely happen during Europe Week, in May 2020. Significantly the Zagreb Summit, which was held in 2000, marked the very beginning of negotiations between Croatia and the EU of entering into the union.
“It’s unrealistic to expect major progress in EU expansion before the European Parliament election next May, and the first opportunity for further enlargement could present itself during Croatia’s chairmanship of the EU in 2020,” commented Plenkovic in Brussels on Friday.
Speculation as to who the new members of the European Union could be mainly involves countries in the south-eastern region, including Montenegro and Serbia.
Dubrovnik Airport plans to complete its 2018 business year with a total of 2,534,173 passengers, which is 9.47 percent more than in 2017. Also, the company generated revenues of HRK 415.3 million, an increase of 16.3 percent, and a profit of HRK 72 million. Speaking at a media conference traditionally held at the end of the year, said the Director General of Dubrovnik Airport, Frano Luetić, and in many ways 2018 was a record year.
“Although there is a turbulent and challenging year behind us, we have achieved new records. But we believe that 2019 will be even better and the growth in traffic and revenue will be higher. The increase in the number of passengers carried this year also has a positive impact on financial operations. The estimated operating profit of Dubrovnik Airport for 2018 is 170 million Kuna, an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous year,” commented Luetić.
Adding that “According to airline announcements, the number of operations on flights to Western and Central Europe, particularly towards the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic is expected to increase in 2019. The most significant announcements are carriers who are already among the top ten carriers at Dubrovnik Airport according to the number of passengers carried. These are EasyJet, Jet2.com, British Airways, Eurowings and TUI Airways and they have all announced increased capacity on all routes to Dubrovnik. Significant growth is expected in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin, and a particularly significant announcement of opening Philadelphia as a new destination, said Luetić, explaining that a new line will be maintained by the world's largest air carrier, American Airlines.
Other new lines are still available for Cork Carrier Aer Lingus, Linz to Austrian Airlines and Tel Aviv by El Al airline.
However, commenting on the news that the largest low-cost airline in the world, Ryanair, will fly to Dubrovnik in 2019 he said that “we are still in negotiations.”
On Saturday, the Christmas decoration of Stradun continued. And the authors of this weekend’s decorations were pupils of the Primary School of Marina Getaldić who decorated two 'showcases', the shop windows of OTP Bank and the pastry shop Perić.
The advent decorations are part of a city program aimed at turning the Stradun into the centre of events of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival and to bring colour and joy during the holiday season. The coordinators of the project are Mrs. Lucija Perojević and Rajna Inić.
The heads of state or government of the 28 EU member countries convened in Brussels yesterday for a two-day summit which will be dominated by Britain's departure from the EU, after UK Prime Minister Theresa May managed to delay a vote on the Brexit deal in the British parliament on Monday.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also attended the summit.
“We would like the hear Prime Minister Theresa May’s position. Obviously, she is coming to ask for additional assurances,” Plenković said in Brussels on Thursday evening.
“We think the Brexit agreement is really good, and now a lot of effort is needed to close the deal. If that doesn’t happen, the UK can ask for an extension on the deadline in order to avoid hard Brexit on March 29 next year. In any case, this needless referendum, and a campaign which was defamatory and in many ways false, has resulted in problems for the entire EU, and especially the UK,” Plenković added.
The City of Dubrovnik has a new website. The newly-designed official website of the City of Dubrovnik with a modern design adapted to the screen of all devices allows for easier navigation, better content organization and efficient search engine allowing all visitors to easily find important information.
The site is both interactive and functional and offers support for all future interactive content to receive messages from citizens. On the front page of the site in real time a visitor counter in the historical core is also displayed. And the site is adapted to web search engines like Google, so its content can easily be found. However as yet an English version of the site hasn’t been published.
The total cost of designing and making the site according to the contract was 178.125,00 Kuna including VAT.
Rating agency Fitch maintained Croatia's long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) at 'BB+' in its latest report on Friday, with a positive outlook. They said this was a result of its strong structural features, macroeconomic indicators and high GDP per capita, but also its with weak growth potential and high public sector debt.
The positive outlook given to Croatia reflect the agency's projections that the primary budget surplus, low interest rates, and a healthy growth of GDP would continue to result in the reduction of the government debt.
Fitch expects Croatia to outperform its budget plan in 2018, for the third year running, with a budget deficit forecast of 0.2 percent of GDP, compared with the government's projection of 0.5 percent.
"Croatia's fiscal performance continues to benefit from strong revenue growth and expenditure restraint," Fitch said, and added that this was despite the contingent liabilities stemming from the troubled shipyard company Uljanik, which are expected to amount to approximately 0.6 percent of GDP this year.
They said that the general government budget will remain broadly balanced in 2019-20, against the small deficits projected by the authorities.
"Positive fiscal dynamics are underpinned by favourable nominal growth, the government's commitment to meeting its expenditure rules as well as the incentive of joining the euro zone," Fitch said.
Fitch forecast that the public debt-to-GDP ratio to fall to 74.1 percent of GDP by the end of 2018, down from 84 percent at end of 2014. They expect the ratio to continue decreasing, to 68.3 percent by 2020, and to 61.9 percent by 2023.