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.
That was the week that was. It has been a turbulent week to say the least. As my mother would say “I haven’t known if I’m coming or going.” It’s not often that I get to listen to God Save the Queen played by a British military band in front of a red double-decker bus overlooking the walls of the Old City of Dubrovnik.
Yes, the British Days in Dubrovnik event swallowed my week whole and spat me out the other side. My emotions were running all over the place. I was celebrating the connections between Dubrovnik and Great Britain. If I can’t be happy, proud and passionate whilst being involved with something like that then there is something wrong with me. “How do you feel being part of this event?” asked one journalist. “My heart is the size of a balloon,” was the first answer that came into my head.
I opened an art exhibition, presented a pub quiz, opened the whole event and sang with The Beatles and that was just in the three days. Standing on Pile with a cup of English tea in my hands in the shade of a London bus from 1964 whilst watching tourists enter into the historic core isn’t something I get to do every day. I sipped English gin which isn’t a drink I’m particularly fond of as it was the first alcoholic drink that I got drunk with, but I didn’t care.
One minute I was speaking English to the Military Attaché from the British Embassy and the next Croatian with a local restaurant owner, my brain was like mashed potato after day one. My two worlds were colliding right in front of my eyes and I was loving it.
The only event that would bring me as much personal joy would be organising a Dubrovnik Days in London, but I better whisper that as someone might take me up on that idea. And every event was so readily embraced, so well attended. As the first chords of “Love Me Do” opened the concert by The Beatles Revival Band in front of the St. Blaise and I saw the mixture of locals and tourists all singing along and dancing my balloon-sized heart nearly exploded. “Does this happen every night? It’s great!” a slightly elderly man from Manchester asked me. “Not every,” I smiled back.
To see so many people just having a good night out, well, that was enough for me to know it was a successful event and it all added to the rich Dubrovnik entertainment program. Yes, rich program. To all those people who say “Oh, there isn’t anything to do in Dubrovnik.” I say, get your lazy backsides off the couch and get out. This year the festivals of different events have rolled from one to another. I can honestly say that this has been the busiest year on the event calendar that I can ever remember. But if all you want to do is sit around and drink coffee and moan, well that’s your prerogative. But I don’t want to concentrate on the negative, god knows there’s enough of that around anyway.
Brexit was forgotten as the two cultures joined. In the pub quiz, a pub quiz that only involved questions about the UK, there were four teams from the UK and nine from Dubrovnik. But, to my pleasant surprise, there wasn’t a huge difference in the scores. Yes, a team from the UK won but they did have the slight advantage of having a Cambridge professor on their team. But “local” teams finished second and third. I say local because all week I have been mixing up “ours” and “yours”. I guess I am now neither “yours” or “theirs” but somewhere in the middle.
Of course there were slightly Monty Python moments – the English guests forming a queue to get on the London bus was eyebrow raising. And as quickly as it came it went. And life goes back to normal. Who am I kidding. Life is too short to be normal.
The days of double taxation between Croatia and Japan are over with the signing of an agreement today. The Croatian Minister of Finance, Zdravko Marić, and Kenji Yamada, the Japanese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs signed a bilateral taxation agreement in Zagreb.
This new agreement includes a number of tax breaks and improves conditions for trade relations between the two countries, commented the Minister of Finance.
"Japan is one of the model economies and opportunities for cooperation with Japan have increased since Croatia joined the European Union in 2013. We want to be recognised as not just a country for tourists, but also develop our economy in various sectors, and Japan's experience in that, and this agreement, can help," commented Zdravko Marić.
90 percent of Croatia’s exports to Japan is tuna from the Adriatic Sea with almost 3,000 tonnes exported in 2016. The new double taxation agreement now has to be ratified by the Croatian parliament.
However, there is also hope that Croatian wine could make an impact on the Japanese market, with the Japanese minister stating that “Croatia's wines could become increasingly recognised in Japan, and the number of Japanese companies doing business in Croatia would also increase.”
Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik Mato Franković and representatives from the City of Dubrovnik visited the video surveillance centre today in the premises of the Administrative Department for Transport.
In is centre recordings of the video surveillance system of public spaces in the City of Dubrovnik are projected. The system consists of over one hundred cameras deployed on the 48 most frequent places in the city and all of these cameras are connected to the video surveillance centre which is staffed 24 hours a day.
According to Mayor Franković, the goal of the cameras set is not punishment, but to ensure a safer flow of traffic. In the realization of this project, the City of Dubrovnik has invested 230 thousand Kuna.
In addition to the City of Dubrovnik (the Traffic Management Department of the Transport Office), the Police Department of the County is also a registered user of this video equipment. And the system serves for the control of improper parking and traffic monitoring, as well as increasing security, combating crime and detecting perpetrators.
Looking for a unique villa on the Adriatic Sea? Have you got €4.3 million burning a hole in your pocket? This could be the opportunity for you. The Croatian government is selling a villa on the island of Vis and the starting price is 32 million Kuna.
The Croatian government has made a decision to sell a former Yugoslav National Army barracks on the island of Vis known as Czech Villa. The starting price is 32 million and 100 thousand Kuna and the spatial plan envisages the construction of tourist and catering facilities.
The Minister of State Property, Goran Marić, has commented that he believes the total final investment into the villa will be around 100 million Kuna.
Offers for the purchase of the villa need to be submitted by the end of this month. "I hope that there will be interest even though it is on an island, we will see,” added the Minister.
Zagreb may well be the largest city in Croatia and somewhat unsurprisingly generated the largest income in 2017 but Dubrovnik is certainly punching well above its level.
According to data released by the Institute for Public Finances the City of Zagreb produced an income of 6.57 billion Kuna in 2017, which was over 40 percent of the total income of all city governments in 2017. The income per capita was 8,177 Kuna in the capital which was well below Dubrovnik.
In 2017 the City of Dubrovnik generated a huge 401 million Kuna. And in comparison to the 8,177 Kuna per capita in Zagreb the City of Dubrovnik recorded 9,139 making it the seventh most productive city in the country out of 128 officially designated cities or towns. In terms of overall income only Zagreb, Rijeka and Split generated a higher income. But bearing in mind that Zagreb has a population of 803,000, Rijeka 121,000 and Split 172,000 and Dubrovnik only has 44,000 it shows the impressive level that the city has reached.
In fact, the average income of the 20 counties in Croatia was 202 million Kuna, showing that the City of Dubrovnik generated almost twice as much as many of the counties.
Whilst on the other hand the expenditure of the City of Dubrovnik was 368 million Kuna. Again this figure was only beaten by Zagreb, Rijeka and Split. Many other major Croatian cities with double and treble the population of Dubrovnik were well below these figures.
Croatia is administratively divided into 128 officially designated cities or towns and 428 municipalities at the lowest level of government, with all 556 having the same level of local authority, which are grouped into 20 larger counties. The City of Zagreb is both a city and an extra county.
The report analysed budgets of all units of local government in the country, and calculated their spending and income per capita.
Recycling and green living are sure to be even more important in the coming years with experts that as close as 2030 our planet will get even warmer. Plastic, especially plastic bottles, are certainly one of the main pollution problems and whilst Croatia has decided to refund anyone who hands in a plastic bottle to a recycling drop-off point some countries have been slightly more creative.
Don’t forget that everything we throw today, we will eat, drink or breathe tomorrow
Here are just some of the ideas that other countries have created to help save the planet from plastic bottles.
1. Beijing has special metro machines that accept plastic bottles as a method of payment.
2. You can pay for the bus in some Indonesian cities with plastic bottles. In Surabaya, you get two hours’ drive bus ride for recycling a plastic bottle.
3. In Istanbul residents can exchange plastic waste for credit on a metro card or some other form of public transport.
4. Sydney also has machines for recycling bottles, and after inserting plastic, in turn, throws out tickets for the bus or the cinema.
This interesting article was published today by punker.hr and shows that there are many ways to recycle.
The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, will pay a two-day working visit to France on the 15th and 16th of October during which he will met with President Emmanuel Macron.
Apart from meeting the French President in Paris Plenković will also hold a meeting with members of the Croatian community in France and will be present at a meeting of the France-Croatia Business Council. He also has plans to give a lecture at the renowned Sorbonne University, which could touch on the challenges facing the EU after Brexit as it is entitled “Croatia and the Future of the European Union.”
Finally, the Prime Minster will open an exhibition called "Croatia Full of Colours".
The Prime Minister’s Office announced that he will travel to France with the Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek, the Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and a business delegation headed by Chairman of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Luka Burilovic.
The 2018 Dubrovnik Good Food Festival opens tomorrow with a Healthy Food and Homemade Goods Fair on the Pile entrance into the Old City of Dubrovnik. The fair opens at 9:00am and will remain open all day until 8:00pm. At the healthy food and homemade goods fair you will find local, organically grown and traditionally prepared products. Take a walk to Pile, taste and buy homemade jams, honey, liqueurs, wine, cheese, ham, and other local products.
And tomorrow a presentation and tasting of traditional Venezuelan arepa. Arepa is a type of food made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. This interesting new presentation will be held at 11:00am in the stands on the Pile area. Just like we eat bread, Indians eat chapati or Arabs eat pies, Venezuelans eat arepa, a traditional Venezuelan “bread.”
For more details on the whole program of the 2018 Good Food Festival visit the website of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board