Sunday, 19 January 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.


A survey shows that more than 40 percent of Croatians have a positive opinion about the European Union, while as many as 81 percent know that Croatia is taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time on January 1, 2020, the Jutarnji List daily reported on Sunday.

The survey, financed by the EU, was carried out by the IPSOS Puls agency between November 27 and December 3. A total of 1,005 Croatians took part in the survey.

If a referendum on accession to the EU were to be held today, 68 percent of the respondents would be in favour and 28 percent would vote against. In 2012, 67 percent of those who went to the polls supported accession to the EU and 33 percent were against it.

As many as 43 percent of the respondents see the EU in a positive light, mostly those in the 18 - 30 age group.


The Croatian national football team finished 2019 ranked in sixth position on the FIFA World rankings. Croatia, who finished runners-up in the World Cup to France, managed to qualify for the upcoming 2020 European Championships this year after winning their group.

The FIFA World rankings were topped by Belgium, followed by France in second position and Brazil in third.

In fourth spot is one of Croatia’s opponents in the 2020 Euros, England, whilst the top five is completed by the South American side, Uruguay. 

The next FIFA ranking will be published at the end of February 2020.


By the time you read this column I will be following Chris Rhea and will be driving home for Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for joy, love and cheer. And a time to be with your family and the ones you love. And I am heading back to the UK this festive season, yes its’ turkey for me this Christmas.

I am looking forward to all those traditions, from the crackers to the Queen’s speech. However much I enjoy living in Dubrovnik the one time of the year that is truly miss England is Christmas. Every house, every street and every village and town truly throws themselves into the festive spirit. Decorations light every home, Christmas trees on every corner and all the old favourite songs, from Last Christmas to Let It Snow. It really is a winter wonderland. It’s like Advent in Zagreb on a country sized scale.

I can’t wait to enter my local pub and be greeted with a raging log fire and mulled wine. Everyone will be wearing their brightly coloured Christmas jumpers, have tinsel wrapped around their shoulders and be holding a glass of some special alcoholic drink that only ever gets served over Christmas.

I have always loved Christmas Eve just as much as the big day, I guess it’s the enjoyment of the expectation, rather like tantric sex. Although I did spend most of my Christmas Eve’s last-minute shopping and then staggering drunk home, I guess you could say that’s another two traditions.

Of the fifty years that I have been walking on earth I don’t think that Christmas in England has changed at all. It’s like a warm comfort blanket that constantly reminds you of happy memories as a child. And through all the years the same music, same aroma of the Christmas pudding and same bite of winter in the air.

Christmas touches all of your senses at the same time. Christmas in Dubrovnik just doesn’t have the same feel, I’m sorry but it just doesn’t. Yes, I enjoy the sights and sounds of kolenda, the plate of Bakalar and even midnight mass, but it just doesn’t feel special. Advent in Dubrovnik started out as a good idea, and was quite impressive to start with, but over the past two years has got stuck in the mud and hasn’t moved forward at all. I personally think that the most impressive street in the world, in one of the most unique cities in the world deserves something more elegant and classy. Basically something more in keeping with the timeless surroundings. The wooden houses served a purpose to start the festival in the formative years, but a better solution should have been found by now. The decorations are passable, but it seems that they are constantly being recycled. Generally, there is no clear concept, which is a shame. I just get the feeling it could be so much better, as I have been reminded by locals on many, many occasions. But, it is a time to forgive, so I’ll forgive and pray that next year the bar is raised a little, sorry a lot, higher.

It is also a time for joy, so let’s lighten the mood. What’s the difference between snowmen and snowwomen? - Snowballs. That always makes my niece laugh. Yes, just as there are festive tunes on the radio, so there are Christmas jokes that come out once a year. Inside every Christmas cracker (a slightly odd tradition) is a cheesy joke. Such as “Why do birds fly south in the winter?” - “It's too far to walk.” Or “Why couldn’t the skeleton go to the Christmas party?” - “He had no body to go with.” Or my own personal favourite “What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?” – “A stick.” These, and many more will be read out around the Christmas lunch table, a table that is groaning under the sheer weight of food, yes you wouldn’t want to be a turkey at this time of year. It is a time for excess. Too much eating, drinking, spending and fun. But we all deserve it once a year.

So at this special time of the year, I wish you all a warm Christmas wrapped in the blanket of your family!

The last in long list of new flight connections to Dubrovnik for 2020 comes from Swiss International Airlines. From the 4th of July until the 29th of August Dubrovnik will be connected with direct flights to Geneva, with one flight a week on Saturdays.

These seasonal flights from Swiss will be in direct competition with the low-cost airline easyJet. Swiss will operate these new Dubrovnik flights with the Airbus A220.

Croatia is a highly inclusive nation, according to just-released research from the Othering & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. The ranking comes out of the Institute’s fourth-annual Inclusiveness Index, the only index of its kind that ranks 132 countries according to the degree to which they achieve holistic inclusivity across group identities, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.

The Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway took the top spots in the 2019 Inclusiveness Index, with states as diverse as Ecuador, Lesotho, and Albania also ranking in the highest category. Indicators that are measured in the index prioritize laws and policies over investments drawn from economic growth, allowing poorer nations to fare just as well or better than wealthier counterparts. Countries that rank highly in inclusivity provide greater access to power and resources to groups that span salient social cleavages.

“The Index helps us see not only how countries are faring relative to each other, but also how they are doing over time,” says co-author Samir Gambhir. “India, for example, has moved lower in our ranking since 2016, likely in part due to deteriorating religious cohesion, increased gender-based discrimination, and declining political representation for minority communities.”

In addition to ranking nations and US states, researchers also highlighted stories and issues in the world today that are promoting or challenging inclusion. Earlier versions of this report highlighted the global migration crisis and the #MeToo movement, while the 2019 report spotlights the disturbing and increasingly apparent ways that social media platforms are manipulated to spread hate and fear. Among other issues, the report delves into the ways in which state and non-state actors have spread propaganda and inflamed reactions through false stories—with deadly consequences.

The report also highlights where the US—as well as all 50 states and the District of Columbia—is struggling and where it is doing well with regards to social inclusion. Researchers highlight anti-transgender violence, corruption, and democratic backsliding as key obstacles to inclusion in the US today.

“At a time of rising ethno-nationalism and closing borders, this Index is a timely and important measure of how the countries we live in are performing relative to each other,” says co-author Stephen Menendian. “The findings are simultaneously hopeful and dispiriting, a reminder of progress and how much more we can do.”


Among the EU Member States there are a range of different policies with respect to making influenza vaccines available to the general public — often they are specifically targeted at older groups of people or other at-risk groups. In the EU in 2017, more than two fifths of those aged 65 and over were vaccinated against influenza.

Among the 21 Member States for which this data is available, the vaccination rate differed: Around 7 out of 10 elderly persons (72.6%) were vaccinated against influenza in the United Kingdom, with a slightly lower share in the Netherlands (64.0%), Portugal (60.8%) and Ireland (57.6%), while less than 10.0 percent of the elderly population were vaccinated in Latvia and Estonia.

Whilst Croatia was near the bottom of the vaccination list with only 23 percent of the population protecting themselves against the flu.

Influenza vaccination 2017


In cooperation with Dubrovnik restaurants, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board will once again traditionally organise the "Cod Fish Days" as part of the rich program of this year's Dubrovnik Winter Festival.

Along with prikle doughnuts and dried figs, cod fish prepared in different ways is one of the delicious traditional delicacies that can be found on most Dubrovnik tables during the winter months, and especially on Christmas Eve.

From December 20st to 24th you will be able to taste the authentic traditionally prepared cod fish dishes in Dubrovnik's restaurants. These dishes are part of Dubrovnik's gastronomic heritage, prepared according to traditional recipes, in white or in red sauce, or in some other ways, such as cream of cod fish soup, cod pâté or cod fish pasta.

See the above attachement for the full list of restaurants involved in the Cod Fish Days 2019 and their special menus...and bon appetit! 

Police officers from Slovenia, Hungary and Italy are in Zagreb to assist, for the first time, their Croatian colleagues during the Advent season, when the capital city is swarmed by foreign visitors.

Slovenian, Hungarian and Italian police will be patrolling Zagreb streets with their Croatian colleagues from 18 December to 8 January.

The head of the Zagreb Police Department, Marko Rasic, said on Wednesday that the engagement of foreign police officers would help foreign guests feel even more comfortable and safe during their stay in Zagreb.

This summer the "Safe Tourist Season 2019" campaign involved 95 police officers from 19 countries who helped their Croatian counterparts in destinations popular among their respective compatriots.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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