Tuesday, 18 February 2020
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

The levels of gross domestic product across Croatia are just as diverse as the landscape with the capital having by far the largest GDP. According to figures just released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) the GDP per citizen in 2017 amounted to 11,893 Euro. Along with Zagreb the other three bid earners were Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.

Expressed in Kuna, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2017 was 88,726, which is aa increase of 5.4 percent compared to 2016. Statistics also show that the GDP per capita in Croatia was only 61.7 percent of the EU 28 average.

The final annual GDP for Croatia in 2017 amounted to 366.43 billion Kuna or 49.12 billion Euro.

Zagreb completely dominates Croatia’s GDP with more than a third of all business activities taking place in the capital. In 2017 the total GDP of Croatia was 125 billion Kuna, or 34.1 percent of the total Croatian GDP. In fact, Zagreb was the only area of Croatia that saw GDP higher than the EU 28 average.

Only three other counties have a GDP higher than the Croatian average, Istria, Primorje-Gorski Kotar and the Dubrovnik-Neretva County.
According to the CBS, Virovitica-Podravina County has the lowest GDP per capita in 2017, which was 45.8 percent less than the Croatian average.


“My first ever Croatian show! See you in July, Rovinj! Xx,” commented the hugely popular singer Dido on her Twitter account as she announced her first ever concert in Croatia.

Dido, who has had global hits with Life for Rent, Here with Me and Thank You, is one of the biggest selling English singers of all time and has won a string of awards including Brit Awards, two Grammy nominations and two World Music Awards.


Dido will perform at the Rovinj Summer Music festival on the 25th of July and already the organisers have announced her concert on their social media channels with the message “Dido's coming in Croatia for the first time ever. We're going to revive some beautiful years in Rovinj!”

Dido's first two albums are among the best-selling albums in UK chart history, and both are in the top 10 best-selling albums of the 2000s in the UK.

The largest infrastructure project in Croatia has fallen victim of the coronavirus. The Pelješac Bridge, which is currently being constructed by China Bridge and Road Company, has been affected by the virus as the factory that produces the steel structures for the bridge has been shut down in China due to the coronavirus.

The virus has paralyzed the whole of China and now the factory where the steel structures are made for the Pelješac Bridge. This however does not mean that work will cease in Croatia, but the question is what will happen when it comes to installing the new structures.

Croatian Roads said the contractor had not asked for an extension of time. The bridge is scheduled to open on July 31, 2021.
“The contractor has previously and in advance taken all necessary measures to prevent the possibility of a potential threat to the construction site. Site protection has been put in place, measures have been taken and implemented in accordance with clear instructions,” commented Croatian Roads, for Dnevnik.hr


The days of Croatians requiring a visa to visit the US could soon be a thing of the past as the United States is expected to cancel visa requirements for Croatia by the end of the year.

Only citizens of four European Union members, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria, are still not covered by the US Visa Waiver Program, after Poland joined up in 2019. However, the Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister, Gordan Grlic-Radman, said in Munich on Friday that the US was indeed on the brink of cancelling visas for Croatian citizens.

“We have met all the conditions and this is only a matter of time. It is in the interest of both Croatian and US business people," commented Grlic-Radman. The Croatian Minister met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in Munich on Friday ahead of a major security conference.

And as well as the end of visas for Croatian citizens the double taxation situation between the two countries should also come to an end by the end of 2020.

I have long been convinced that technology is making us all dumber. The smarter the phone, the dumber the user. How many times when you can’t remember something do you jump on Google and blindly follow the information you are feed. We now all carry in our pockets our brains external hard drive and we use it multiple times in a day. And just as any muscle in our body if we don’t exercise our brain it gets smaller.

Just the other day my wife and I went to buy a chair, yes just one chair. I like shopping as much as visiting the dentist, they both seem just as painful. Now the first few years of living here I can remember buying an ironing board. I took forever. I was forced to take one piece of paper from on counter to the next, one person showed me the ironing board, another wrapped it up, another took my money and another placed it in a bag. An endless process that smell of socialism and jobs for everyone.

Things changed, they changed drastically. And now we don’t even have to talk to anyone as we self-check-out at the supermarket. I can’t help thinking that a time span somewhere between the ironing board and the express check-out would be ideal.

So back to the chair. I took us around 15 minutes to find a chair that we liked, or rather that my wife liked and whose price I liked. “Can we buy just one chair?” my wife asked the sales assistant. “Yes, of course, no problem,” she answered. That “no problem” would turn out not to be true. “Which chair would you like?” she asked. We pointed it out and made our way to what I thought was the checkout. “Take a seat here and I will write up your order,” said the friendly sales assistant.

I really just wanted to pay and leave with my new chair, surely that’s the idea of shopping. So I sat down at a desk whilst the lady punched at keys on her computer, and behind her a huge TV screen showed my exactly what she was doing.

“Now what was the model of the chair,” she asked. I wanted to say “Please just give me that chair and I will go home,” but instead I found myself saying “One second I’ll go and find out.” She typed and typed. Every now and then a swear word would be whispered. “Mare! Do we have this chair in stock?” she yelled to a colleague on the other side of the store.

This was kind of defeating the object, surely this computer should be telling you that, not Mare. Over came Mare. Now I had the “joy” of watching both of them hammering at the keyboard. I glanced at my mobile phone, 15 minutes had passed, the same amount of time it had taken me to select the chair. And then my shopping voyage hit another iceberg. “Mark I have changed my mind, I prefer this chair,” shouted my wife.

Was I really going to have to go through this whole process again. And would Mare now desert us. It took another ten minutes to finally locate the chair on the computer, even though I had said on multiple occasions that the chair from the shop, the one right in front of me, was absolutely fine. They finally located the chair on the computer, “Right can I just take your name and some details,” Mare asked. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! “You do realise I am here just to buy a chair not to have a prostrate exam,” I answered. A moment of silence. “I will just use my details, no worries, and when you go upstairs to pay just give them my name.” WTF!

Not only was I now committing stolen identity to buy a bloody chair but I had to climb stairs to interact with Mare II to buy a chair. I repeat a chair! “No wonder so many people buy online,” I whispered to my wife as we climbed the stairs. In the time it had taken to buy this chair I could have made one. “Would you like the chair delivered to your home or do you want to take it today?” asked Mare II. “All I want is the chair, what is the best way for me to have that chair today?” I replied. “Well after you have filled out this form and paid then you can drive your car around the back of the building, hand over this paper to the man there and he will bring your chair from the warehouse,” she answered. It took 15 minutes to select the chair and a further 30 minutes to actually have it in my hands. It’s like they didn’t want to give it up.

“Maybe tomorrow we could come back to look for a lamp,” said my wife as we left the store. A prostrate exam at the dentists would be more appealing. 

“If this is winter then what will summer look like,” commented on local of the Old City of Dubrovnik today as warm sunshine poured down on the stone façades and clear blue skies brought a bright day with temperatures in the high teens. Whilst large parts of Europe, especially northern Europe, are fighting storms and freezing temperatures the whole of the Dubrovnik region has had an extremely mild winter.

And is clearly isn’t only Dubrovnik that is soaking up the Vitamin D. Today one the most famous beach in Split, the Bacvice beach, an informal match of five-a-side football broke out on the sand. These games continue through most of the year, weather permitting, and today was clearly a great day for beach football.

Zlatan Leko caught the action from the Bacvice beach today and it certainly shows the mild weather that the Croatian coast is enjoying.

Check out the video below

The Croatian Ministry of the Interior and police agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed at a meeting in Sarajevo on Thursday to strengthen cooperation in combating illegal migration, including better coordination and data exchange, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

"Our task is to improve cooperation in all our areas of activity on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially after a recent meeting between the Croatian minister of the interior and the security minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This primarily relates to improving the readmission system and joint patrols, without the intention of Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming a hotspot for illegal migrants," the Croatian deputy chief of police, Jozo Suker, said.

He asked the Bosnian partners for all the necessary assistance in investigating allegations of human rights violations and unlawful treatment of migrants by Croatian border police.

Bosnian border police chief Zoran Galic said that new models of cooperation were needed in addressing the growing migratory pressure on the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbours.

He said that last year Bosnian border police had stopped 13,251 people from entering the country illegally, but added that the police could no longer cope with the growing pressure from migrants, all the more so because one police officer guards 25 kilometres of the border.

"That's why we are doing all we can and are setting new models of cooperation to act as effectively as possible in dealing with illegal migration," Galic said.

Slobodan Ujic, the head of the Service for Foreigners' Affairs, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina honoured the readmission agreement with Croatia.

"More than 85 percent of applications sent by Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina have been granted," Ujic said, adding that the summary readmission procedure with Croatia was well functioning and that they were planning to use this model in cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro.

Five thermal vision cameras and 198 sets of police equipment to be donated to Bosnia. 

Earlier on Thursday, the government in Zagreb decided to donate police equipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina following requests by the country's authorities for assistance in tackling growing cross-border crime. Croatia will donate five thermal vision cameras and 198 sets of equipment.

Later on Thursday, Bosnia's security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic thanked Croatia for the donation, saying that it would help make the Bosnian police agencies more efficient.


The largest pizzeria chain in the world, Domino Pizza, is planning its first ever Croatian restaurant this spring. Zagreb will be home to the first ever Domino in Croatia, and it will be located close to the Sheraton Hotel in the heart of the capital.

Domino Pizza plans to open their first Croatian restaurant in April or May this year, according to a report today in poslovni.hr
The pizza chain currently has over 16,300 outlets in 85 different countries and the Croatian branch is the brainchild of Mihael Sviben from All About Pizza and his business partner Nils David Gornall.

Speaking to poslovni.hr Sviben commented that “We started this story a little over a year ago, and we are working with an investor who already has Domino's Pizza locations in Japan, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. Croats love pizza, and we offer an American style of pizza that is completely different from anything currently available in our market.”


According to him, the key to the success of Domino's Pizza besides quality is the speed of delivery, which will be a maximum of 30 minutes. “The location is being remodelled and we plan to open another one by the end of the year and continue our expansion in Croatia,” added Sviben. However no information was provided as to where future Domino Pizza restaurants would actually be situated in Croatia.

Could we also soon see a Domino Pizza restaurant opening in Dubrovnik? So far Dubrovnik has been unattractive to major restaurant chains, including fast food and coffee outlets, mainly due to the fact that even though the city is a magnet for tourists during the summer months the limited population makes business for these large chains unfeasible throughout the winter months. Whereas major brands such as McDonalds, KFC and Subway all have operations in many Croatian cities, Dubrovnik has yet to attract one such brand.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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