Thursday, 21 January 2021
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

I could be a world record holder, maybe I should write to Guinness. It’s not a record I’m proud of, or indeed even want, but I have been in and out of the European Union four times!

I’m officially no longer a citizen of the EU. Brexit has now unfortunately became a reality, the island has never felt more like an island before.

My own personal roller-coaster of entry/exit/entry/exit has taken another twist. In 1975, when I was six years old, joined the European Communities, an organisation that would transform into the European Union we know today. So at six I was an EU citizen. In 1998 I moved to Croatia, and although still an EU citizen I had left the EU, but 15 years later Croatia joined the European family and I was back in. Seven years down the road and Brexit kicks-in and I’m out again.

I am on a constantly spinning revolving door. Will I be in again? Well judging by my EU timeline I should be an EU citizen by around 2035, one way or another.

Do I feel less European? NO! In fact, Brexit has convinced me to finally get a Croatian passport. I hadn’t bothered before, because quite frankly there seemed no point, but now I’m officially a citizen of a third nation I think it’s time to get back in the EU family.

 

As I already have a Croatian driving licence I’ll now go one step further. I’m going to follow the advice of Sir Winston Churchill who first floated the idea of a United States of Europe back in 1946 in a famous speech in Zurich. He’s probably turning in his grave now.

How the world turns. I remember all those years ago when my wife needed visas, papers and confirmations before travelling. Whereas just a wave of my passport was enough for the border guard to raise the barrier. This, to say the least, frustrated her considerably. Now the shoe is firmly on the other foot. Now she is the one with freedom of movement, freedom to work and study and now it’s the border guard who is waving her through.

On the other hand, I have to think do I need a visa now? Will they stamp my passport? Can I stay here for longer than 90 days? Do I have to show proof of bank statements?

The mountain of paperwork is something that I’m not used to. Although one Croatian friend, who is planning on studying in the UK, said to me the other day “We’re used to filling out papers and papers, this isn’t something new to us.”

Yes, I have all the rights of an EU citizen as long as I remain in Croatia, and I have these rights thanks to Croatia. I know many, many people back in the UK who are both embarrassed and frustrated at the decision to leave, but the decision has been made so we’ve got to work around it.

It is already, even in these early stages, proving challenging, and completely unnecessary. I’ve heard of stories of people being charged customs duty of post they’ve received, of losing content on their streaming TV service and having a nightmare with students in UK universities. “Can I use my mobile phone in Croatia this summer without betting charged roaming fees?” asked a friend. The answer is that he won’t be charged….yet.

It feels like we’re going backwards not forwards, I thought that all these problems were behind us, a thing of the past and not the present.

And it’s the younger generations I feel the sorriest for. The freedoms they were used to, or expecting, have been made considerably more restricted. Finding a summer job in Italy, doing a year of their studies in Germany or taking a year out and travelling across the old continent have all been made more complicated. Although I strongly believe that they will see just what a horrible mistake we have made and vote us back into the European family in the future.

Will I be alive to see this, I’m not sure? But I’m certain it will happen. For as the great Winston once famously “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Let’s just hope that the younger generation don’t lose their enthusiasm. I have adapted to being in and out of the EU, but I have a feeling that they haven’t, and that they don’t want to lose their rights.

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Israeli Sundor Airlines plans to return to Dubrovnik Airport this summer! This is much needed news for the Dubrovnik tourism industry.

The line Tel Aviv - Dubrovnik should start operating on May 11, a little later than the planned direct line between Tel Aviv and Zagreb, which should start at the beginning of the summer flight schedule, writes Croatian Aviation.

The plan of this Israeli airline is to operate on the line Tel Aviv - Dubrovnik once a week, every Tuesday.

Tickets for the mentioned lines are already on sale on the official websites of Sundor and partner El Al Airlines.

 

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 30 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the last 24 hours (eight were determined by a rapid antigen test).

These new cases include - 12 people from Dubrovnik, five from Župa, four from Metković, three from Vela Luka, two from Ploče, one each from Blato and Opuzen, and two people who do not reside in the county.

A total of 12 males and 18 females were infected, and an epidemiological link was established for 11 of them.

Unfortunately, one male from Metković (born in 1957) passed away in the last 24 hours.

34 people made a full recovery - 12 from Dubrovnik, six from Korčula, two from Blato, Konavle, Lumbarda, Ploče and Vela Luka, one each from Kula Norinska, Metković, Orebić and Župa dubrovačka and two people who do not reside in our county.

26 people tested positive for coronavirus are currently hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital. Two patients require intensive care and both are on invasive ventilation.

In the last 24 hours, 155 samples were processed, and a total of 35,942 samples have been analysed since the beginning of the pandemic.

There are 656 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours there have been 13 violations of the self-isolation measure (all 13 at border crossings).

 

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At yesterday’s press conference, the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, answered a number of questions of interest to the public, among other things announcing a possible easing of epidemiological measures before 1 February.

“About a month and a half ago, we had a press conference where our colleagues asked who was to blame for the number of deaths. Then everyone reported that we were the worst in Europe. Now that we have the biggest decline in the number of new cases in Europe,” opened the Prime Minister.

He added that “Now some people will press the Government to relax the measures as soon as possible. Covid-19 is a dangerous and deadly disease and in Croatia it has led to people becoming infected, some being on a respirator and some dying. Elderly people of those of fragile health are dying. We are striving to protect that population. It is more than obvious that the measures we adopted on 27 November have had an effect”

“Croatia did not go into a complete lockdown and did not introduce a curfew. The system was for the Government to permanently balance measures for the protection of health and the maintenance of the economy, wages, jobs and the fairest possible way of life for fellow citizens. In a joint effort, we achieved a good result,” he said.

The Prime Minister continued “Now that vaccination is intensifying, we have ordered a total of 1,900,000 doses from Pfizer. 950,000 people can receive the Pfizer vaccine. A million doses of Moderna vaccine won’t come as fast as Pfizer, but it will come. The most important news today is that there are serious indications that the EMA will give approval to Oxford and AstraZeneca, that’s another 2.7 million doses. When you see these three then you can expect more intensive vaccine delivery during March, April and that we will vaccinate most of the vulnerable population by the end of April.”

“We have to make a kind of shield for those who are most endangered, because in that way we can return to normal activities and prepare for the economic recovery and the tourist season. We made a decision a day or two ago that what is in effect today lasts until January 31, the gyms will open even earlier. By January 31 it will be like this, we will analyse the situation with experts and then we can go into relaxation. The winter months are not months of relaxation,” he said.

 

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The final works on the asphalting of the road to Osojnik as part of the construction of a new road from the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Bridge to Osojnik took place this week.

This is one of the most important investments in the transport infrastructure of the City of Dubrovnik, because connecting the Dr. Franjo Tuđman Bridge with Osojnik and Pobrežje creates the first preconditions for expanding the residential zone of the City of Dubrovnik to these suburban areas.

The road will enable a better connection between the settlement of Osojnik and the state road D8.

The works were carried out by the contractor PZC Split, and the entire project is worth 33 million Kuna and is divided into three phases.

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Croatia has been hit by a polar wave causing temperatures during the night and morning in parts of the country to plummet to -12 degrees!

The State Hydro Meteorological Institute (DHMZ) issued a warning for cold waves across the country in the coming days that could endanger human health, so a moderate health hazard is marked for the Split and Rijeka area today, while a high hazard is marked for the Gospic and Karlovac area in the coming days, reports Jutarnji List.

Today the temperatures will be low, -10 in the mountains, most inland temperatures will range between -7 and -2, on the coast and islands from -1 in the north to 5 in the south.

According to DHMZ, snow is possible in some places in the interior, especially in the first part of the day, when light rain is possible in the central land areas, which freezes in contact with the ground.

In the second part of the day, precipitation will be mainly in Dalmatia, with occasional rain, snow in some places, and in the north of the country a gradual decrease in clouds and frequent sunny periods.

And it will be cold this weekend in Dubrovnik with temperatures on Saturday expected to reach 5 degrees, although the real feel will be as low as – 2. Whilst on Sunday it will be even colder with highs expected to reach a maximum of 4 degrees, again the real feel will be -2 degrees.

 

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Dubrovnik-Neretva County Prefect, Nikola Dobroslavić, said in Dubrovnik on Wednesday that the county had donated four new housing containers worth 300,000 Kuna to the earthquake-stricken Sisak-Moslavina County.

This is the second donation, after 200 thousand Kuna of aid was paid on the day of the earthquake.

Dobroslavić pointed out his satisfaction that the Dubrovnik-Neretva County could also be a part of the total assistance that Croatia showed to the affected area.

"We also had such a case of suffering, both in aggression and in earthquakes. That additionally motivated us and strengthened empathy towards the people who suffered," said Dobroslavić.

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"The containers are 20 square metres in size and are fully equipped, with a kitchenette, bathroom, four beds, table with four chairs, wardrobe and air conditioning. They were ordered from Croatian manufacturers and should be delivered next week. The Sisak-Moslavina County will, in cooperation with the Headquarters, determine who the end users are,” said Dobroslavić and thanked all volunteers and associations that participate in helping the earthquake-affected area.

The money for the purchase of containers was provided from the county budget and from the port authorities and the company "Dubrovnik Roads", which is owned by the county.

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According to a study by the French specialized tourist magazine Echo Touristique, ten trends will mark the travels of French tourists in 2021, said the director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in France, Danijela Mihalić Đurica.

The results of the study show that the French are eager to travel and that they will travel safely as soon as the quarantines and travel bans end. Most French people will travel to one of the French or Central European destinations this year, preferring to stay in nature, so rural areas will attract more guests than cities. Also, in 2021, the French will book a large number of vacations through travel agencies that offer the possibility of cancelling reservations, refunds due to cancellations and through agencies that offer reliable information on the sanitary situation of individual destinations. Flexibility of reservations will be one of the basic criteria when choosing a vacation, and an increase in last minute bookings is expected.

The data also shows that the French will not travel on multiple trips this year, which has been the case so far, but their trips will be longer. Due to the current trend of working from home, many French people will combine vacation and work from home, so an increase in long bookings on platforms such as Airbnb and Booking is expected. The study further shows that strict sanitary measures will have a significant impact on the choice of accommodation, and the use of contactless technologies at airports and in accommodation and transport units will be strengthened, given that such technologies instil greater confidence in passengers in the current situation.

"The French can hardly wait for the situation to calm down and the possibility of international tourist travel again, and close and medium, but safe destinations could benefit the most this year, according to all research. In accordance with the above, in February we are launching a cycle of virtual events, i.e. webinars with which we will present Croatia as an attractive and safe destination to interested agencies and travel organizers. There will be a special emphasis on airlines and trends in air traffic because most airlines, including Air France, Transavia and Volotea, are optimistic about flights to Croatia, "said Mihalić Đurica.

 

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