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 takes over the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020 and one of the priorities will be the expansion of the EU into southeast Europe. The Parliament Speaker and HDZ politician Gordan Jandrokovic commented that the expansion of the European family to include new members in southeast Europe was crucial for the stability of the entire Union.
"Naturally, Croatia's support will be based on a credible, clear, strict and fair accession procedure, which it went through itself," commented Jandrokovic.
Although he mentioned the southeast Europe as a region he didn’t go on to explain which countries he meant exactly. It can be presumed that he was talking about Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.
Croatia will take over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1, 2020. In fact, Brexit has brought forward Croatia’s turn to chair the council as the UK were planned to come before Croatia.
One of the reasons that the Croatian government is pushing for enlargement of the EU to include neighbouring countries could well be connected to the fact that Croatia is now on the front line of the EU border and is surrounded by countries that aren’t members, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. And even though Croatia became a full member in 2013 it still isn’t inside the Schengen zone, or the passport-free travel area, although this is expected to be addressed in the near future. However, being a full member of Schengen and being on the outside of the border zone would mean added complications.
The Croatian capital’s airport is continuing to grow and grow and once again this year has recorded incredible passenger numbers. In 2017, for the very first time in the airport’s history, the Franjo Tuđman Airport in Zagreb received three million passengers. And this year this figure has once again been reached but a full 34 days earlier than last year. The lucky three-millionth passenger arrived yesterday on a flight from Paris to Zagreb with Croatia Airlines.
At the passenger registration desk, a ceremony was organized with the presence of the media, representatives of the airport and Croatia Airlines. "I would like to congratulate our three-millionth passenger and in fact thank all the passengers who have used the services of Franjo Tuđman Airport this year. We have continued with the growth of traffic results in all segments: passenger traffic, number of air carriers and new destinations. For sure one of the significant contributions to the growth of traffic was the contribution of Croatia Airlines who have expanded their network of destinations from Zagreb," commented Laurent Tiaffay, the Director of Commercial Affairs and Marketing at Zagreb Airport.
Doing business in Croatia is often a labour of love as opposed to a money making enterprise. With sky-high taxes on salaries and crippling taxes and tariffs placed by the government on every step of a business’s life it is no wonder that around 300,000 people have already decided to leave the country and head for the more business friendly EU member states. And it isn’t only home-grown entrepreneurs that are leaving, but also foreign investors and businesspeople are being warned against opening a company in Croatia.
Inefficient public administration, legal insecurity, excessive taxes, lack of skilled labour force and the government's performance are the key obstacles to doing business in Croatia, commented six bilateral chambers of commerce, containing recommendations on how to improve the business environment. A fairly damning report of the government’s progress so far.
The initiative to improve the business climate in Croatia was launched by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Association of Italian Entrepreneurs in Croatia Business Party, the Austrian Foreign Trade Office, the Canadian-Croatian Business Network (CCBN), the German-Croatian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in Croatia. Six international chambers of commerce frustrated with the lack of movement and deciding to take matters into their own hands and push for change.
The six chambers currently constitute more than 1,200 companies in Croatia, employing more than 150,000 people, and accounting for more than 50 percent of foreign investments in Croatia, CCBN chair Joe Basic told the media.
The survey covered 473 companies, and its combined results show that, despite some significant improvements, companies and potential investors are still faced with numerous obstacles, and that the changes occurring in Croatia are too slow and insufficient in comparison to the rest of Europe.
Representatives of the foreign chambers called for digitisation of public institutions and services, which, they said, would result in faster and more transparent public services.
The date when Croatia will adopt the Euro may not yet be known but the fact that at some point in time the Kuna will be dumped for the European currency isn’t under question. And the people will not be asked, in the form of a referendum, whether they are happy to change currencies, at least according to the latest statement from the Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković.
In the words of the Prime Minister a referendum for the introduction of the Euro has already been held when a referendum on Croatia’s accession into the European Union. However, quite plainly, this wasn’t the question on the voting ballots in the referendum the Prime Minister is convinced that when citizens voted yes to join the EU that the automatically also signed up for all the other EU treaties and projects.
Responding to a journalist's request on a referendum on introducing the Euro, the Prime Minister said it had already been resolved. "When we had a referendum on Croatia's accession to the European Union, we voted on the Accession Treaty. The Accession Treaty states that Croatia will join the European area," commented said Plenković.
Responding to the journalist's inquiry into Croatia's prospects of entering the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) by 2020, the Prime Minister said that we have good indicators in meeting the Maastricht criteria, we have a strategy for introducing the Euro, a letter is being prepared by the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Croatia National Bank regarding the steps we will take to enter the exchange rate mechanism, which is a prerequisite for membership in the European area.
When asked about the dilemma whether the introduction of the Euro and the renunciation of a part of sovereignty, the Prime Minister pointed out that "the European Union is engaged in the bringing together sovereignties and thereby strengthening all countries in the European project".
"The Euro is one of the strongest integrators. Our goal is clearly clear and strategically determined by a referendum confirmed and accepted in the accession negotiations and the accession itself. It is all part of the European project process which, since 1990, governments, all the parliaments and all the leaders have backed. There is no dilemma, this is the policy of continuity and it is in the interest of Croatia," concluded Prime Minister Plenković.
As a former MEP the Prime Minister is a firm supporter of the European Union and is unlikely to push back or challenge EU directives. A Brexit situation in Croatia is unlikely to occur with Plenković at the helm of the government.
The second in our series of Dubrovnik tests and we have turned up the volume somewhat. Let us know how you get on, and good luck!
The fourth most frequent cause of death in the Republic of Croatia is diabetes. To mark World Diabetes day, today the 14th of November, the national association of diabetes fighting groups held a conference and highlighted the fact of just how lethal the disease is in Croatia.
The main problem is that many cases are detected late and therefore people with diabetes die from the chronic complications brought on by the disease.
Around 2,300 Croatia died from diabetes in 2017 and it was revealed that around 40 percent weren’t even aware that they had diabetes. In fact, the costs of fighting the disease have risen greatly in Croatia with 4.6 billion Kuna spent on fighting the disease, which is around 20 percent of the entire budget of the public health system in the country.
It is believed that although there are 300,000 people in the country registered with diabetes that the actual figure is probably closer to half a million.
"The number of diabetes patients in Croatia is growing steadily. Right now more than 9 percent of the entire adult population has diabetes, compared to 6 percent ten years ago. The fact that the death rate is also increasing shows that we are not successful in treating it," general practitioner, Tereza Saric, said at the news conference.
We really don’t want to put the kiss of death on it by writing about it but the weather in Dubrovnik over the past few days has been spectacular. Mild and sunny days filled with endless blue skies and temperatures in the low twenties.
Tourists still walking in flip-flops and shorts, with even a few brave ones swimming in the Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik is really enjoying and Indian Summer and with just over a month left to Christmas it should appear that we will go from T-shirts to tinsel overnight.
And of course when the skies are so clear the sunsets are spectacular. These photos, sent to us by a reader, were taken from the Dubrovnik Palace Hotel.
The Canopy by Hilton hotel, an €8 million investment by Zagreb City Hotels, opened in Zagreb on Monday, as the first hotel of the Canopy brand in continental Europe.
After Zagreb, hotels of the Canopy brand will also be opened in London, Madrid, and Paris.
The hotel's interior design was done by Croatian designers from the Franic and Sekoranja Studio, and Croatian furniture manufacturers.
Located in the city centre, the hotel has 151 rooms, a restaurant and a bar, a retreat room, and two conference halls.
This is the second hotel from the Hilton chain in Zagreb, after DoubleTree, and we are planning on opening Garden Inn next year, said the Hilton Group managing director for southern Europe development, Alan Mantin.
Tourism Minister Gari Capelli said at the opening that some €1.05 billion would be invested in Croatian tourism in 2019, after this year’s €940 million.
“We can no longer look at Croatian tourism as seasonal in character, since the figures tell us otherwise. Today, I can say that Croatia has seen an 11 percent increase in guests compared to this time last year,” Capelli said.
This year, some €1 billion in investments have been planned, Capelli said, adding that the ministry was counting on additional €350 million to be invested in health tourism.