Friday, 20 September 2019
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

A photo exhibition entitled “From Illyria to Elsinore” by British artist Bari Goddard opened in the atrium of the Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik last night. The exhibition, which is being held as part of the Midsummer Scene, showcases images from 'Hamlet' and 'Twelfth Night' as well as scenes of Dubrovnik inspired by the plays of Marin Drzic.

The director of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlašić, commented that Dubrovnik and the UK are traditionally connected and that the majority of tourists in the city are from Great Britain. “Around a fifth of all tourists in Dubrovnik are from the UK and this cultural connection between Bari Goddard and the Midsummer Festival in Dubrovnik is another great bonus for Dubrovnik,” commented Vlašić.

The Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the editor of The Dubrovnik Times, Mark Thomas, had the honor of opening the exhibition which will remain open in Sponza Palace until July 7th.

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The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, met with the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Mayor, Nikola Dobroslavić, this week. The meeting took place as Plenković was opening the Dubrovnik Forum 2017 in the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace. During the meeting the problems and challenges facing the region were discussed.

“The mayor and county mayor informed me of the key economic, development, traffic and tourism topics in the region. The Government of the Republic of Croatia has a special affinity for this area due to the poor traffic connections. For years, the need for construction of the Peljesac Bridge has been invoked, and now we have come to the stage that this project will be realized in the next few years. The bridge is key to form good connections with the south of Croatia with the rest of the country,” commented Plenković. Adding that the tourism figures for this season in the Dubrovnik region were very encouraging.

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“We understand the problems that come with a large number of tourists coming from cruise ships, especially as this is a UNESCO world heritage site and requires a more streamlined flow of guests,” emphasized the Prime Minister.

When asked about the problem of a lack of workforce in Dubrovnik in the tourism sector, the city is still missing around 2,000 workers, the Prime Minister concluded that even though there has been a record drop in the number of unemployed people in the country Croatia still lacks a workforce for the tourism industry.

“This year, we have increased the quota for the import of foreign workers in deficit professions,” commented Plenković. When asked whether the golf project on the Srđ Mountain should be reduced from 310 to 100 hectares, Plenkovic replied that this was a matter for local authorities, but that it was in the interest of the country to avoid legal disputes and to provide investors with a stable and secure investment climate in Croatia.

According to information from the Italian national press agency ANSA, a Croatian aqua park from Istria is the second best in Europe.

In the past two years, the Istralandia Aquapark has achieved impressive results; it placed as the 5th among the best European aqua parks on competitions held in Goteborg (Sweden) and Barcelona (Spain).

This is great international recognition for the Croatian aqua park especially because it comes from Italy, the home to 110 aqua parks, out of 300 aqua parks in Europe.

''This is recognition that commits, but also confirms our efforts made so far. We are constantly investing in education, hospitality and professionalism of our staff as well as in perfect horticultural design, entertainment and a variety of animation programs, cleanliness, an impeccable quality of pool water, a rich gastronomy offer and adrenaline attractions'', commented Silvio Kraljevic, the director of the Istralandia Aquapark.

It is interesting to note that the best aqua park this year is the Siam Park in Adeje on the Tenerife Island.

The first spectatcular concert of the international opera festival Tino Pattiera was held last night in front of the Rector's Palace in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik. Romantic opera love songs in one of the most stunning locations in the city was the perfect combination for an unforgetable evening.

Check out out photo gallery by Željko Tutnjević

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A few days ago, the US general Herbert McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, announced the upcoming visit of the President Trump to Warsaw, Poland, as well as his visit to the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Apart from a meeting with the Polish President Andrzej Duda, in a detailed explanation of Trump’s travel plan, McMaster also announced an official bilateral meeting of the US President with the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Warsaw on the 6th of July 2017, who will be the co-host of the Three Seas Initiative Summit.

‘’He will attend the Three Seas Initiative Summit to demonstrate our strong ties to Central Europe’’, said McMaster in the official announcement.

Just to remind you, the ''Three Seas Initiative” is a declaration adopted by 12 EU member countries in order to establish an informal platform for strengthening political ties and facilitate cross-border cooperation in the region and implementation of macro-regional projects.

The region BABS: Baltic – Adriatic – Black Sea accounts for 28 percent of the EU territory, 22 percent of its population but only for 10 percent of its GDP.

Last August in Dubrovnik a round table gathered the presidents of Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovenia, as well as ministers and deputy ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia.

On this occasion, discussions about the economy focused on the need to improve the infrastructure of the whole region and in particular energetic cooperation, mainly to promote the plurality of energy sources and reduce energy dependence. According to the Croatian President, 50 billion Euros are needed to overcome the current shortcomings. However, she also pointed to the major challenges of the region, primarily to the demographic decline and emigration.

“The area between the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black Sea is the lifeblood of Europe,” commented the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the host of the ''Three Seas Initiative'' forum held in Dubrovnik last year.

Under a beautiful night’s sky in Dubrovnik the international opera festival “Tino Pattiera” opened with a spectacular concert in front of the Rector’s Palace in the heart of the Old City. Entitled "Chansons d'amour" the first night of the festival saw four soloists along with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Noam Zur perform an evening love music.

From "La fleur que tu m'avais jatée" from Bizet's Carmen, to "Un bel di" from Puccini's Madame Butterfly and "Paris, Emperor" from Verdi's Traviate. Four exquisite soloists - Armenian soprano Liana Aleksanyan, German mezzosopranistica Ursula Hesse von den Steinen, Spanish tenor Xavier Moreno and Ukrainian bass Taras Konoshchenko kept the audience enthralled in this evening of opera under the Dubrovnik stars. The performance was completed with a stunning rendition of Nessun Dorma by Moreno.

The Tino Pattiera international opera festival continues tomorrow, Sunday the 2nd of July, with a concert in the Rector’s Palace entitled “Seriously Romantic.”

The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, will officially open the twelfth international Forum Dubrovnik Forum 2017, entitled "Adriatic-Mediterranean Cooperation and Security in South-East Europe", on Saturday, July 1st, 2107, at 9 pm at Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.

The Dubrovnik Forum will be dedicated to the most current topics. The focus of this year's Dubrovnik Forum is on the Adriatic-Mediterranean area, which is a geographical point of contact, and at the same time the intersection of the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. The focus will be on addressing the common challenges of security and stability in the Mediterranean and neighbouring areas by strengthening cooperation and fostering dialogue, while also addressing the opportunities for more concrete action.

The Dubrovnik Forum will also focus on opportunities to develop additional business opportunities in the eastern Mediterranean and on intercultural dialogue with a focus on mobility and youth education.

Croatia's citizens can travel to 144 world countries without a visa, however, the Croatian passport is among ''the weakest'' passports in Europe.

According to the Passport Index list, ''the most powerful'' passports in the world are German and Singapore because citizens of these two countries can travel to the largest number of world countries visa-free.

Although the passport value is determined by a set of parameters, the visa is the most important of them. The Croatian passport has made a big progress in the period from 1990s to 2017; however, the country has placed as the 15th on the Passport Index list along with Monaco, Bulgaria and Argentina and is still among the weakest in the European Union.

Croats can travel to 144 countries around the globe visa-free; however, a visa is required for Croatian citizens going to almost all African and Middle Eastern countries.

In addition, as Croatia is an EU member country, the Croatian passport is much more powerful than passports of all the other Balkan countries. However, in comparison to last year, Croatia has dropped from 14th to 15th place on the list. Only a Slovenian passport is ''stronger'' than Croatian, whilst Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the lower part of the list along with Russia.

Germans have the greatest freedom of travelling around the world, they can visit 157 world countries visa-free. The country is followed by Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, Spain and Norway. The US passport was the most powerful two years ago, however, now it is not even among the top ten.

The country of Afghanistan has stuck to the bottom of the Passport Index list for years. Its citizens can travel to only 23 countries visa-free.

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


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