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.
Not only are real estate prices rising in the Croatian capital but also the cost of renting is spiralling upwards. The average cost of rent is now 14 percent higher than it was just two years ago.
According to information from the property website Crozilla.com the average rent in Zagreb in March was €730 per month, which is 2.5 percent higher than a month earlier.
Larger apartments, ranging from 80 to 100 square meters, were advertised at an average price of around 890 euros. And even though these larger apartments are not in demand as much as smaller ones their rent prices also rose considerably.
And even though the rental prices in the capital are rising the demand is also at an all-time high. The most sought after apartments in Zagreb, those ranging in price around 500 Euros a month, make up only around 10 percent of the advertised properties.
Rain and grey skies have dominated the May weather across Croatia as tourists hid under umbrellas and the beaches lay empty. And now it is official this year’s May is the coldest in the past thirty years, and the third coldest in the last seventy years.
And apart from the chilly weather the rain has also blighted the whole month with only patches of blue skies and sunshine, and as well as being the coldest month on record for thirty years it could also well be the wettest month since May 1954.
May in Croatia has been very sparse on the sunshine front, and it seems another May weather record could be broken as the months with the lowest amount of sunshine hours. According to meteorologists May this year has seen only 60 percent of the normal amount of sunshine for May.
And the forecast for the rest of this week certainly isn’t promising with more grey skies and rain predicted at least until Friday.
The iconic Dubrovnik cable car will remain closed until the 30th of June. The owners of the cable car, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, Excelsa Real Estate have notified all travel agencies via post that the cable car will be closed up and including the 30th of June. They state in the letter that the cable car is closed due to “force majeure.” However, the reality is that the cable car was forced to close on the 25th of April after the Customs Administration closed the cable car for non-payment of concession fees.
The City of Dubrovnik and Exselsa Real Estate have been locked in a legal battle ever since the cable car was closed down, with both sides seemingly determined not to back down. “Without a concession the cable car is closed and there is simply no denial and disrespect for clearly defined decisions. I hope that Excelsa Real Estate will pay their debts from the past and after that a concession will be signed which is mutually satisfactory for both sides,” commented the Mayor of Dubrovnik when the cable car was forced to close.
In this latest news from Excelsa Real Estate they express that negotiations to resolve the current situation are ongoing travel agents and partners will be informed when the situation changes.
Even though the turnout for the European elections were the highest across the continent in decades Croatians showed that they still uninterested in their European future. When it came to turning up at the European polling stations on Sunday only 29.9 percent of Croatians actually voted. This meant that out of the 28 EU member states Croatians were the fourth least interested in voting. The smallest turnout was seen in Slovakia, with a mere 22.7 percent, followed by Slovenia with 28.3 percent and the Czech Republic with 28.7 percent.
Across the whole of the European Union the average number of voters who circled their candidates on Sunday was 51 percent, which is the highest turnout for years.
A massive 88.5 percent of Belgium voters turned out, and 84 percent of citizens in Luxembourg, and even the bigger nations saw considerable numbers at the voting booths, with Germany at 61 percent turnout and France with just over 50 percent. Even voters in the UK, who will only see their MEPs sit for a limited amount of time in the European Parliament, had a 37 percent turnout rate. Denmark hit a turnout record at 63 percent.
The number of voters who went to the polls in Sunday's European election was rather low across Croatia but better than five years ago, according to the State Election Commission (DIP).
Although the turnout for Sunday’s European elections was higher than the last election in 2014 it was still less than 30 percent of the people able to vote. In the Dubrovnik – Neretva County only 26.7 percent of people actually voted, less than the country average of 29.8 percent, as voters showed little interest in selecting their MEP for the next five years.
The Dubrovnik – Neretva County remained strongly behind the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and although their percentage of the vote dropped compared with 2014 they still won 34.3 percent of the overall vote. In fact, this was much higher than the country average for HDZ, which as 22.7, although HDZ traditionally does well in the south of Croatia and Dalmatia.
In only two of the twenty-two voting districts did another political party, apart from HDZ, actually win seats and both of these were on the island of Korcula. In Smokvica, where HRAST won, and in Vela Luka, where SDP won, were they only two voting districts that didn’t give a majority to HDZ.
“HDZ is a relative winner - we missed only about 1,000 votes to win a fifth MEP!” commented Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, on Twitter.
Voters in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County in Sunday’s European election gave their support to the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) with 26.9 percent of votes, followed by 17.4 percent going towards the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Across the whole of the county only 26.7 percent of people actually voted, or just over 38,700 voters.
With 3,001 votes HDZ won 26.9 percent of the votes in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County, followed by SDP with 1,762 votes and HRAST with 957 votes.
The 2014 European election in the Dubrovnik – Neretva county were a different story with HDZ winning 45.9 percent of the vote and SDP 32.1 percent. Although it must be pointed out that in those elections both HDZ and SDP were part of a wider coalition of parties.
Sunday’s European elections in Croatia brought some unexpected results as the ruling political party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), saw worse than expected results whilst their main opposition, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) doing surprisingly well.
HDZ were predicted to win 6 of the 12 European MEP seats up for grabs in Sunday’s election but were shocked to win only 4 seats, with their rivals picking up the same number of MEPs in what proved a great night for SDP.
In the last European elections, held in 2014, HDZ won 41.4 percent of the vote but this Sunday was a different story as they had one of their worst election results in year and gained only 22.7 percent of the vote.
The four largest cities in Croatia, Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek, all turned their backs on HDZ and voted for other political options. The rural areas of the country, as well as the diaspora, are traditionally the heartland of HDZ and they continued their support with voters outside of Croatia giving HDZ 51.2 percent of their votes. However, even in the normally staunch diaspora population the support for HDZ is waning, in the last European election in 2014 the party collected an overwhelming 72.3 percent of the vote.
Clearly moved by the result the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, stated that whilst he wasn’t happy with the result of the European elections he was satisfied that HDZ had stood alone in these elections and not part of a coalition. “We will start analysing tomorrow and see what we could have done better in the campaign,” concluded Plenkovic.
The polling stations around Croatia closed at exactly 7:00pm last night and the first “exit results” predicted HDZ winning 5 seats and SDP only 3, however as the votes were counted this predicted fell apart and according to the results published by the State Election Commission, HDZ won 4 seats, SDP 4, Croatian Sovereigns one, Misa Kolakušić's list of candidates one mandate, Živi Zid one and the Amsterdam Coalition One.
Croatian European election results
HDZ 22.71% (4)
SDP 18.71% (4)
Croatian Sovereigns 8,51 (1)
Mislav Kolakušić 7.89% (1)
Living Wall 5.66% (1)
Amsterdam coalition 5.20% (1)
China and Croatia have in recent years moved ever closer, with links in business, tourism and investment and now it seem that these links could become even closer with direct flights in the pipeline. Speaking to the specialised website, EX-YU Aviation, a Chinese businesswoman, who is currently purchasing a hotel in northern Croatia, stated that flights between the two countries would start in earnest soon.
Yu Jiang said at a press conference on the occasion of the purchase of Hotel Zagorje in Kurovec that “One of the issues for Chinese tourists is that they have to transfer through other airports in order to get to Croatia. We are currently negotiating with several airlines over the introduction of nonstop services from China to Croatia. We have six carriers that are interested and I believe that we will be able to announce the first nonstop flights between our two countries very soon."
In 2018 almost 234,000 Chinese tourists visited Croatia, an impressive increase of 47 percent over 2017. Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb and Split are all on the radar for Chinese tourists who tend to enjoy a tour of the country as opposed to being fixed in one destination.