Thursday, 21 November 2019
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.


The festive period is on the doorstep and Dubrovnik is getting into the spirit with the Christmas decorations. The lights have already been hung across the Stradun and around the heart of the Old City and today it was the turn of the Christmas trees.

The first Christmas tree was installed at the beginning of the Stradun and there are more to come including the largest one near the St. Blaise Church. With only 37 days left till the big day it looks like being a colourful event in Dubrovnik as ever, although the chances of a white Christmas are very slim indeed. But we’ll settle for a dry one instead.


Almost a quarter of a century after the Homeland War ended in Croatia experts believe that there is still 87,700 acres of land that needs to be cleared of possible land mines. That is roughly the size of 66,000 football fields that still may contain land mines. And now with some financial assistance from the European Union the Croatia government is planning to clear 4,200 acres of forest land in the Velebit Nature Park and the Paklenica National Park.

35.8 million Euros has been earmarked for the clearing of mines in these forest areas and the EU will pay for 85 percent of the total.

The clearing of mines left over from the 1991-95 war is expected to be completed by June 2023, by which time nearly 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of forests located in the Velebit Nature Park and the Paklenica National Park would be cleared.

"Currently there are 355 square kilometres of mine-infested areas in Croatia. That is a frightening number considering the fact that there are more than 30,000 mines and other unexploded devices in those areas. This government aims to clear Croatia of mines. That is why I am pleased with the signing of this agreement, which is in large part co-funded with EU money," stated the Environment and Energy Minister, Tomislav Coric, said in a press release.

The world’s most popular budget airline, Ryanair, will open up another flight connection to Croatia for 2020. The airline have announced that they will introduce new flights between Gdansk in Poland and Zadar as part of their 2020 summer flight schedule.

The timetable shows that Ryanair will fly three times a week, on Saturdays, Thursdays and Tuesdays, starting from the 31st of March and operating until the 24th of October. Ryanair already operates seven routes in and out of Zadar Airport and this latest offering from Poland is sure to be as popular as the rest.

The Red Cross in Dubrovnik will soon have a special vessel which will be the starting block of an offshore rescue service in the city. The City of Dubrovnik have agreed to earmark the necessary funds in the 2020 to purchase a specialized search and rescue sea vessel.

The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, met with the head of the Dubrovnik branch of the Red Cross and they discussed the advantages of purchasing a “Rescue Runner” for Dubrovnik. It was agreed that the City of Dubrovnik would financially support the project and would also back the establishment of a future service and training courses.

rescue runner croatia

The "Rescue Runner" scooter is 3.6 metres in length and has a capacity for 375 kilograms and can reach speeds of up to 38 m/ph. It was designed for search and rescue missions and for working in the most challenging sea conditions, and would cover the entire area of the Dubrovnik area - from the island of Lokrum to the Elaphite islands.

The procurement of the "Rescue Runner" scooter is crucial for the pilot project of setting up an offshore rescue service, the first in Croatia to be developed by the Red Cross.

Whilst the Adriatic Sea through the summer months is generally calm and inviting it has a completely different look in the winter, as one Scandinavian swimmer discovered today. The recent stormy weather has seen crashing seas all along the Croatian coastline as a gale force southerly wind combined with high tides caused floods. However, in spite of these extreme weather conditions one tourist decided to go for a swim in Dubrovnik today, as it turned out a longer swim than he had planned on.

dubrovnik swimming in old port in 2019

A middle-aged man, who is believed to be from Scandinavia, jumped in the sea to go for a quick dip on the Porporela breakwater. The Adriatic however had a different plan for the swimmer and due to the high waves he was unable to get out of the sea where had dived in and was forced to swim all the way into the Old City harbour where he was able to get out. The harbour is normally a buzz of boats and ferries but thankfully it was empty today. He was spotted by local fishermen and dragged out of the sea.

What has happened to the Germans? They were once the shining example to the world of efficiency and effectiveness. They brought us decentralisation with autobahns connecting all the major cities, they gave us dual-flush toilets that saved water, they offered citizens an affordable means of transport or the Volkswagen or people’s car and they even join words together to cut spaces on a page, such as “Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän” (try saying that when you are drunk) which basically means Danube steamship company captain. Instead of four simple words they made one massive one and cut out four spaces on a page.

When you think of Germans you a nation that gets the job done, quickly and comprehensively. However, to rewrite Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Germany. I suspect that it has a Croatian influence to be honest but let’s leave the nationalistic debate to the side for now.

“Important Notice” flashed up on my TV screen with an automated message from T-Com that I had to upgrade the software. MY first thought was “If modern technology was supposed to save me time why am I constantly wasting precious time updating things.” Those thoughts were rapidly washed away as I saw the update instructions underneath the message on my TV. I was so shocked that I actually took a photo.

This, and I am not joking, was the message, and I have shortened it a little otherwise I would run out of spaced on this page. – Turn on your MAXtv receiver and then unplug the receiver from the electricity and then plug it in again – OK, that doesn’t seem so difficult, that was until I read the next line. – Wait for around 8-10 seconds. When the picture appears on the screen unplug the receiver again. Repeat this four times – WTF!

They must be joking! Am I now on the payroll of T-Com? Why am I doing their job? Restart my receiver 5 times by yanking it out of the electricity. Not only that but timing every shut down. It would be easier to launch a nuclear weapon. Apparently the US nuclear code only has 8 digits. Meaning it would be easier to drop a bomb on North Korea than to watch HBO or Premier League football. But the instructions hadn’t yet finished, believe it or not. – After the final unplug wait for between 5 and 10 minutes while the software is uploaded to the new version – Again WTF!

Just to watch the History Channel I am going to be forced to lose half my morning on this bloody receiver. Resigned to the fact that I had no choice I tried to follow the instructions. And needless to say I was meet with countless error messages. So I phoned the helpline. And needless to say I was met with an automated voice that told me exactly what I had just read on screen. What had happened to German effectiveness? There must be an easier, more customer-friendly, way of updating this bloody receiver. I think I am relatively techno savvy. But what about the hundreds of thousands of less savvy MAXtv viewers. I am only glad that my mother-in-las doesn’t have MAXtv, otherwise I would probably be out buying her a new TV and she had thrown the remote at it along with some juicy swear words.

But there was more. – At the end check that the update has been successfully completed. On your remote control choose Menu/Settings/Information on system/version – Again a huge WTF! I tried once again, and again error messages bombarded me. A nation that had discovered both Uranus and Neptune, that had invented the first printing press and created the world’s first pocket watch were now asking people to go back to basics and unplug a device five times just to update software. It would have been easier to crack the Enigma Machine than understand T-Com’s update policy. I tried once again, this time with a stop watch timing my seconds between the receiver having power and not having power, this was getting ridiculous. And again it didn’t work.

In a rage I jumped up and walked out the door to get some fresh air to clear my head. It was then that I spotted the old-fashioned aerial on the roof of my neighbour’s house. With a wry smile I said to the metal aerial “Nobody had to upgrade you.”

Croatia's consumer price inflation slowed down to 0.6 percent year-on-year in October, down from 0.8 percent in September, the state statistics bureau said on Friday.

By product category, the highest month-on-month price increases were recorded for goods and services "for personal consumption," up by 0.4 percent. Cumulatively, consumer prices have increased by 0.7 percent since January this year.

The highest year-on-year increase was in prices of alcohol and tobacco products, which jumped by 4.6 percent, followed by prices of restaurants and hotels, up by 3.2 percent.

On the other hand, the biggest drops were recorded in transport prices - down by 2.6 percent, and fuel prices - which dropped by 4.1 percent.

Compared to September, consumer prices in October increased by 0.4 percent on average. The highest single monthly increase was in prices of clothes and footwear - up by 7.3 percent, while transport prices went up by 0.8 percent.

Christmas in Croatia will have a political twist this year as the government has decided to hold the elections for President of the Republic of Croatia will be held on Sunday the 22nd of December, just three days before Christmas. It what would normally be an extremely busy weekend of last minute shopping, the last weekend before Christmas, citizens will now be asked to spare some of their valuable free time to vote.

And the run up to Christmas will be a cocktail of adverts for Christmas presents and political messages as the election campaign will run up to the 21st of December. Thankfully on the Saturday and Sunday of the election any publicity from Presidential campaigners is prohibited, so at least there will be a small respite before Christmas.

Holding the vote on the eve of the biggest religious holiday in the calendar is sure to be unpopular with many citizens. And why the government has chosen this date has yet to be announced but it is sure to negatively affect the number of people at the polling stations across the country.


The front runner in the election is current President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, from the ruling HDZ party, although she is closely followed by Zoran Milanovic from SDP and the independent candidate, and singer and TV personality, Miroslav Skoro.
In addition to the decision to call the presidential election, the government also made a decision on the amount of compensation for election campaign expenses, which is distributed to candidates who win more than 10 percent of the votes. For the candidate with the highest number of votes received in the first election round, this fee amounts to 1 million Kuna, but may not be paid in excess of the expenses incurred in the election campaign. 2.8 million Kuna has been earmarked in the budget for reimbursement of election campaign expenses.

If no one wins a majority or more than 50 percent of the votes cast, two weeks later, a second round of elections will be held, with the two candidates receiving the most votes in the first round. So as it seems that not one candidate will win more than 50 percent of the vote at the first time of asking there will yet another election coinciding with New Year. Meaning that between Christmas and New Year more presidential campaigning will bombard voters. It’s a political festive period for Croatia this year.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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