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.
Croatia’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Ivo Sanader, has been sentenced to six years in prison today by the Supreme Court for corruption. The hearing today in the court upheld the decision of 2017 to convict Sanader of corruption charges, after he and his legal team had launched appeals.
Sanader, who was the Prime Minster of Croatia from 2003 to 2009, was, following the court’s ruling, picked up by police at his home in Zagreb and escorted to prison to start his six-year sentence. As the police collected him he continued to protest his innocence to the waiting media.
"This is a show trial. I still believe that this is a case of politically motivated persecution. I will continue to fight with all means available to me to prove my innocence. The charges against me make no sense, they are all lies, each and every one of them. I'm ready to face anything, and in the end I will prove my innocence," commented Sanader as he was driven away by police.
Originally Sanader had received a four and a half year sentence for corruption in a case that was nicknamed “Planinska Affair.” This corruption case saw the former Prime Minister help former HDZ MP, Stjepan Fiolic, sell a building in Planinska Street in Zagreb to the Regional Development Ministry in 2009 for a hugely inflated price. Sanader received a €2.3 million kickback for setting up the deal, and it was also revealed in court that Fiolic had falsified the buildings paperwork including the property’s value.
The deal was sealed with another HDZ politician, and in fact former minister, Petar Cobankovic, who in his role at the time as the Regional Development Minister helped purchase the building through his ministry. He pleaded guilty before the trail actually started and received a one-year sentence which was later converted to community service. Fiolic received the same sentence and his was also transferred to community service, and he was also ordered by the court to repay the corrupted funds he received for his part in the deal.
Apart from his six-year sentence Sanader was also ordered to pay back the €2.3 million kickback he received. However, this isn’t the end of Sanader’s woes and he faces two more court appearances on corruption charges.
Many users of the popular Netflix streaming service will soon have to pay more monthly to watch their favourite serials. As the American media is reporting the new monthly tariffs for Netflix will come into force in May even though the company announced them in January.
The new cost should see prices rising by between 1 and 2 dollars a month, meaning that the basic package will in the future cost $9 instead of $8, the standard package that includes 11-bit HD will cost $13 a month whilst the premium package will rise from $14 to $16 a month.
Netflix had already announced a rise in its service prices in January, with an explanation of how additional funds will be invested in new series and movies. Their announcement was also supported by investors, which caused stock prices to rise by six percent in January.
According to their announcements from the beginning of the year, the same price increase will also reach European users, which means that the prices of their services in Croatia could soon be somewhat higher, reports Novac.hr.
2018 was certainly a great year in Croatia for some sectors of the agricultural industry, with statistics just released by the National Bureau of Statistics figures show that mandarin production was up a massive 156 percent compared to 2017.
There were increases across many of the markets in 2018, with apple production up 64 percent, plums 78 percent, figs 32 percent and pears 29 percent.
But it wasn’t all good news for the citrus fruit industry with nectarines down on 2017 and also strawberries down by 17 percent in 2018.
The two traditional crops of Dalmatia, olives and grapes, had mixed fortunes last year. Olive production dropped by 2 percent and almost 28,500 tonnes were produced. Whilst grape production increased by a whopping 23 percent to 143,000 tonnes.
The first of April arrived and with it the swimming season open in Dubrovnik with tourists from Madrid enjoying a fresh dip in the Adriatic.
Although the sea was crystal clear it is also rather chilly, at around 16 degrees, for the majority of the local population. But the refreshing Adriatic was clearly just right for these Spanish tourists.
Check out the video from today.
Here comes summer in Dubrovnik! The first of April is here and it would seem so is the tourist season. The ancient streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik was alive to the sights and sounds of tourism today as the winter hibernation has obviously come to an end.
Many of the tourist businesses that had closed their doors for the off season were up and running today and for the first time for a few months there were clearly more international visitors in the city than locals.
Spring may officially be here but it seems that summer has come earlier than planned to Dubrovnik. Traditionally Easter is the opening of the tourist season in the region but it seems that it has started a few weeks earlier than normal.
Check out our gallery from today in Dubrovnik
On Monday the 1st of April 1 the City of Dubrovnik invites all those interested to attend a discussion by the historian, journalist and publicist Robin Harris in the City Archives Library in Sponza Palace.
Harris, the author of the book “History of Dubrovnik,” will be the first guest in a series of presentations entitled “Discussions on the City.” This is a project of talks with various guests with the aim of contributing to the future of Dubrovnik with new ideas about the issues that affect the city.
Robin Harris has a Ph.D. degree from Oxford University and was a special advisor to the British government, as well as a personal advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At this first "Discussions on the City” he will talk about the political, economic and social life of the former Dubrovnik, along with the mayor of Dubrovnik Mato Franković, Dubrovnik historians and students of history.
Dubrovnik’s own American football club, the Dubrovnik Sharks, started the new season on a winning note yesterday as the season kicked off with a tournament in Dubrovnik. Facing stiff opposition in the Split Sea Wolves, the Sarajevo Spartans and the Karlovac Dukes the Sharks came through with two wins and one defeat.
The new look Sharks with an impressive roster started against the team from Karlovac, and with an enthusiastic crowd cheering the home team on, came through winners in a high-scoring game 46 – 27.
Split take on Karlovac in Dubrovnik - Photo Mark Thomas
Another win followed as the Sharks defeated the Spartans convincingly 58 – 25, even though the match was close at the beginning the Sharks had too much in their locker for the new team from the Bosnian and Herzegovina capital.
The last match of the Dubrovnik tournament saw them face one of the favourites for this year’s Croatian Flag Football League (HFFL), the Split Sea Wolves. And in a tight game the team from Split finally came through winners 32 – 12. Two wins and a loss in their opening tournament is a great result for Dubrovnik’s American Football club and the team and coaching staff were more than happy with the overall result.
Sharks at the line of scrimmage - Photo Mark Thomas
“Great start for the Sharks! Two wins and one loss at the first HFFL tournament,” commented the club on their social media channels. Adding that “Thank you for the numerous public who turned up to cheer us on. In 7 days the Sharks will travel to Karlovac to play two matches, against the Zagreb Patriots and the Zapresic Saints. Go Sharks!”
The whole tournament was played in good spirits with great co-operation between all the clubs, which can only be a positive sign for the future of the game in Croatia and the wider region.
Well done to the Dubrovnik Sharks for this impressive start to the 2019 HFFL season and to the other teams involved in Dubrovnik for making the day so enjoyable.
Split Sea Wolves
Croatians seem to more than happy with the ruling party and will continue to support them in the upcoming European elections in May, at least according to the latest poll. The European parliament has carried out a poll on Friday and it reveals that of the 12 seats up for grabs in the EU parliament half are predicted to go to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) with the other six divided between the opposition parties.
These latest projections show that HDZ would win just over 30 percent of the votes, meaning six seats in the new assembly, followed by SDP with around 19 percent of votes assuring them three MEP seats.
It is expected that the remaining three seats will be divided amongst the other opposition parties, with the populist party Zivi Zid (Human Shield) on course to win their first ever European seat. Zivi Zid has long since campaigned that Croatia should leave the European Union, as well as leaving NATO.
In spite of a number of political gaffs in recent time the support of HDZ remains strong and they should, if the predictions are correct, keep their stronghold on Croatian MEP seats.
In May, candidates across Europe will compete for seats in the new 705-seat assembly, downsized from the current 751 due to United Kingdom's pending exit from the European Union. The upcoming removal of UK's 73 seats resulted in a new apportionment for the remaining 27 EU member countries, with Croatia's quota increased from 11 to 12 MEPs.