Wednesday, 19 September 2018
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.


Croatia’s plans to become a member of the Schengen area have once again received support, this time from the relevant EU Commissioner. The Croatian Interior Minister, Davor Boyinovic, met with Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, in Brussels this week and received “strong support” for Croatia’s proposal to enter the Schengen family.

Due to its geographical shape and location Croatia’s borders are long and challenging to control. It also has long borders with non-EU countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, meaning that Croatia would therefore be on the front line of Schengen. This present special challenging factors for the country. After joining the European Union in 2013 the country has yet to join the Eurozone, meaning adopting the Euro as the official currency, or become a member of the Schengen border agreement.

"After meeting Mr Avramopoulos, I can say that Croatia's accession to the Schengen area is a shared interest of both Croatia and the European Commission. The importance of what Croatia has been doing for the security of citizens - not only for Croatian citizens, but the EU's as well - and for creating conditions to enable the Schengen area to restore the values that had existed before the migrant crisis, has been recognised," Bozinovic said to the press after the meeting in Brussels.

Croatia hopes its efforts will be recognised and rewarded with an appropriate political decision before it takes over the chairmanship of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020, the ministry added.

“You alright there you lot a little bit warm,” I joked with the policeman as he struggled to find some shade. “I could really do with a cold beer…but I’m on duty,” he smiled back at me. He wasn’t the only police officer melting in the late August sunshine. Every junction I passed on my way to drop my wife off at Hotel Palace had an officer on the corner. Yes, the Croatia Summit had come to town, or rather the circus was in town.

Entitled "Strengthening Resilience - the Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Balkans" it brought politicians from all over the region to enjoy the Dubrovnik sunshine and dip in the Adriatic…whoops sorry…I mean talk about really important matters. Yes, maybe the forum should be more honest with its title, maybe it should be called “Strengthening our suntans at the tax payers expense.”

I’m sorry but for me this forum is a total and complete waste of time and money and effort. I have nothing against Dubrovnik hosting a congress, far from it we really need them. But do you really need one that is basically funded by us, the tax payers, in the middle of the summer season.

We went from a big plus to an even bigger minus. These countless rooms that were taken up by politicians, who I am pretty sure didn’t pay for them out of their own pockets, could and indeed should have been sold to real tourists who certainly would have paid for them. Madness in the extreme.

If they want to make a congress, then do so in the middle of the winter! That would make more sense all round. The hotel would probably be closed anyway. But no, instead they needlessly add to the traffic congestion, tie up half of the police force and waste tax payer’s money.

Last year was even worse when they came at the beginning of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival! Of course we all know why they come in the summer, Dubrovnik in the summer is attractive to everyone, especially if you get a free holiday.

“We are thinking of making next year’s congress in May,” commented one of the main organisers. But when asked “Why don’t you do it out of the summer season, it would make more sense,” she answered “But how could we could go to the beach and swim.” At least she was honest.

I am not sure about you but in my opinion the last thing that Croatia needs right now is more politicians talking. Enough bloody talking, get down and do some work!

And what has all this talking brought us. Can you name any concrete steps or measures that have been introduced from these forums? Do you even know any of the themes from previous years? Did you even know that they name of the congress has been changed? I am guessing you just answered no three times.

All this talking and they can’t even decide on a name for the congress…sorry forum….sorry summit. It started life in 2006 as the Croatia Summit. A rather grand and slightly pompous sounding name. Most of the delegates who attended that first summit went on to defend themselves in court against various allegations, from Ivo Sanader who headed the summit, to Mikheil Saakashvili from Georgia who was stripped of his nationality and deported. Yes, the crème de la crème of regional politics. The Croatia Summit name lasted for six years before being changed to Croatia Forum in 2013. Maybe that’s what they are actually doing here, voting on a name for the summer holiday…sorry congress. And then changed again a couple of years ago to Dubrovnik Forum. It has changed so often that even Wikipedia has given up trying to follow the names changes. I am guessing that in an another couple of years it will be called “Lapad Forum” and then when I reach retirement age it will be called “Forum in a small corner of Hotel Palace.”

This year’s summit…sorry forum was planned over two days. Well in fact the first day only had one event, a gala dinner hosted by the Prime Minister, yes start as you mean to go on with plenty of hard work…eating! The next day, supposedly the main day, started with a program at around 9.30 and the whole day’s panels and meetings ended at 14.30. Yes, that sounds about right for politicans a whole five hours work! Can’t blame them they wanted to make sure they the sun wasn’t too strong before they hot the beaches. Reminds me of a joke – “What is it? Four in a room and only one working? – three civil servants and an air-conditioning unit!     

An earthquake shook Dalmatia last night measuring 4.3 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre of the quake was 62 kilometres east of Split and 3 kilometres northwest of the town of Imotski and a depth of 10 kilometres. The earthquake was even felt on the Peljesac Peninsular.

The quake lasted for only a few seconds but there have been many reports of people experiencing the quake as it rumbled through the region. This is just the latest in a series of quakes that have shook the southern region of Croatia this year, with earthquakes in neighbouring countries including Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


After Kresimir Ćosić (1996), Dražen Petrović (2002) and Mirko Novosela (2002), Croatia now has a fourth member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Dino Rađa.

The Split born basketball star who played for the NBA team the Boston Celtics became only the eighth European player to enter the coveted Hall of Fame. He was introduced at the ceremony last night by the legend of the Celtics, Larry Bird. "It was a lot easier to play the game, Larry, thanks for this, I felt like a member of the Celtics since the first day I came to the club. You what they say - once a Celtic, always a Celtic," commented Rađa as he accepted the award.

As a member of the national team of the former state, he participated at Olympics in 1988 in Seoul, where he won the silver medal, and as a member of the Croatian national team he was a participant of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where he also won the silver medal. At the World Championship in Buenos Aires in 1990 he won the gold medal, and in Toronto in 1994 bronze medal wearing the colors of the Croatian national team

The summer is over, right, the streets of Dubrovnik must be less crowded than they were before, right…wrong! June, July and August were extremely busy but September in the city looks like being just as hectic.

Children may have gone back to school but the amount of tourists on the cobbled streets of the historic city centre this morning show that the tourist season is still in full swing.



With temperatures easing off a little and the Adriatic Sea still as warm, if not warmer, as it has been all summer normally September is normally an ideal month to stroll the city and explore the landmarks without the crowds.

However, today’s photos show a slightly different story. Hotel managers have reported to The Dubrovnik Times that bookings are even better in September than August and the indicators are that the season will strongly continue into October.






Photos by Tea Stjepović


A luxury yacht blazed this morning in the Elaphite Islands and filled the morning sky with thick black smoke. “We woke up this morning and saw this. This poor yacht caught fire this morning when we opened our eyes we heard people screaming, everyone was evacuated,” commented an eye-witness for The Dubrovnik Times.

It is still unknown the name of the yacht that burst into flames this morning burning and no official police report has been published.


At 10.30 this morning firefighters and the coast guard were still fighting the blazing yacht. An eye-witness on a neighbouring yacht told The Dubrovnik Times that there were “lots of young people on the yacht plus a mother a small child” and they were taken to another yacht by the coastguard and around 8.30 this morning.

The yacht arrived late last night in the small bay of Vratnik on the Peljesac Peninsular opposite the small Elaphite island of Olipa. From the video it is clear to see that the million dollar yacht even explodes from the flames.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, quite possibly an electrical fault.

The American coffee chain Starbucks is opening a store in Milan tomorrow as it spreads its reach over Europe. In a coffee mad country, with coffee drinkers that like to take their time to sip their macchiatos and muse over their cappuccinos how will the American version of coffee be accepted. This week the first Starbucks in Italy opens on Friday morning – the Reserve Roastery in Milan.

Can American coffee culture succeed in the coffee rich of Italy? And if so could it pave the way for more expansion across Europe and even to Croatia. Whilst Starbucks don’t have any current plans to open a store in Croatia this move into Italy could well be a testing ground for further expansion.

There have been rumours about a Starbucks opening in Zagreb for years. Back in 201o it was believed that Starbucks would open a café bar in the capital Starbucks through a Greek partner but these rumours were proved unfounded. In fact, the whole of the region is still without a Starbucks, the closest being Austria and now from Friday in Italy.


In what the company describes as the “grandest Starbucks ever” the Milan store is certinaly eye catching. “The Milan Roastery is housed in a historic former post office in Palazzo delle Poste, a bustling city square along the stylish Piazza Cordusio. Outside its doors, some of Milan’s most postcard-inspiring spots are within a few blocks – the towering Duomo di Milano, the soaring light and glass of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Teatro alla Scala, the most famous opera house in the world,” quotes the American coffee house.

Starbucks was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1971, and there are more than 30,000 stores worldwide. Will the Italian move mean a further expansion into Croatia?


The grandest Starbucks ever - Photo Starbucks 

Real estate prices are showing no signs of slowly down, since 2016 the prices have climbed by 11 percent. According to a new survey carried out by a well-known property website in Croatia house prices are on the rise again. On a yearly level apartments across Croatia rose by 7 percent whilst houses rose by 4 percent.

And once again Dubrovnik has by far the most expensive real estate in the whole country, twice the price of the capital Zagreb. In Dubrovnik the average property price will set you back 3,714 Euros per metre squared, whilst in Zagreb the same property will cost you 1,883 Euros.

Split is also on the rise as the destination becomes more interesting for tourists, with the average price per metre squared in the Dalmatian city now 12 percent higher than last year and a massive 20 percent more than two years ago.




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The Voice of Dubrovnik


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