Wednesday, 20 February 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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

Two large packets of marijuana weighing in at a whopping 43.8 kilos have washed up in Dubrovnik. Last weekend the Dubrovnik police found two packets of floating marijuana on two different locations, one on the island of Sipan, near Dubrovnik and the other in Dubrovnik.

This isn’t the first time that marijuana has washed up on the shores of Dubrovnik, in fact it has happened a few times over the past year. It is believed that drug smugglers from Albania to Italy on fast boats dump the drug when spotted by police, or of there is a danger of their ship sinking in the high seas. And the strong southerly winds, that have also brought with them plastic waste from Albania, blew the marijuana towards Dubrovnik. One the previous two occasions that marijuana has been spotted floating in the Dubrovnik seas a southerly wind was blowing.

The two packets, weighing in at almost 50 kilos, have been taken to the Dubrovnik Police headquarters were they will be destroyed. The Dubrovnik – Neretva Police force will also, with the help of international organisations, carry out an investigation to try to determine the origin of the drugs.

But the question arises were more packets of marijuana found, or was it only two this time.

With the UK only weeks away from leaving the European Union as Brexit looms ever closer we caught up the Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Andrew Dalgleish, to discover how this European divorce will affect all UK citizens living in Croatia. On the 29th of March the UK will leave the EU and this move will undoubtedly affect millions of UK citizens living inside the European Union. Of course if there is a deal or a so called “no deal” the situation will be different, but in either case there will be implications to your rights in the future.

The Ambassador stressed that the Citizens’ Rights have been a top priority for the UK Government throughout Brexit negotiations and remain so today. The UK Government continues to be focused on leaving the EU with a deal, but we are also stepping up preparations for all possible eventualities, including a ‘’no deal’’ scenario. And I would appear from recent moves by the European Union that a “no deal” is looking likely.

“In the UK, we have reassured EU citizens and their family members living in the UK that they are welcome to stay in the event of a No Deal scenario. They will continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services on broadly the same terms as now. Concerning UK nationals living in Croatia, the British Ambassador and his team are continuing to engage with the Croatian government to request that reciprocal rights be granted to UK nationals living here,” stated the UK Embassy in Zagreb. And added that they encouraged all Brits living in Croatia to check our Living in Croatia page, which is regularly updated. Ambassador Dalgleish will also hold a meeting with Brits living in Croatia in February – we will provide more details in the coming days.

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Brexit debriefings in Zagreb with the UK Ambassador

There are a number of hot topics and questions that many UK citizens in Croatia have asked us over the past few weeks and we put these questions directly to Ambassador Dalgleish.

Will the UK Government continue to uprate the UK state pension even in a No Deal scenario?

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide and this will continue to be the case when the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal. The UK leaving the EU will not affect entitlement to continue receiving the UK state pension if you live in the EU and we are committed to uprate across the EU in 2019/20. We would wish to continue uprating pensions beyond that but would take decisions in light of whether, as we would hope and expect, reciprocal arrangements with the EU are in place. We are confident EU Member States will feel, as we do, that it is in all our interests for this to happen on a reciprocal basis.

 

Would a dual national Croatian-UK citizen living in Croatia with a UK passport be considered for fee purposes by a UK university as a ‘home student’?

UK nationals resident in the EU remain eligible for home fees providing they meet the existing residency requirement. EU nationals and their family members, starting courses in England in the 2019/20 academic year will remain eligible for undergraduate and postgraduate financial support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course providing they meet the existing residency requirement. The devolved administrations have made similar announcements though the exact support offered may vary across the different parts of the UK. Entitlement to student finance and home fees status after academic year 2019-20 for UK returners and those outside the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement is under consideration.

Can I still use my passport to travel to the EU in a No Deal scenario?

Yes. British passports remain compliant with the guidelines as set by the International Civil Aviation Organization and are still valid for travel within and outside the EU. However, the Schengen Border Code places requirements on maximum validity and unexpired validity needed for non-EU passport holders. In the event of a No Deal scenario, you will need to check whether your passport meets the new requirements when travelling to the Schengen area from 30 March 2019. Most people will be unaffected, but if your passport is nearing the end of its validity you may need to renew it early. You should check your passport issue date and that it is no more than 9 years and 6 months before the date you arrive in the Schengen area.

Will my passport be accepted for travel/entry back to the UK if it doesn’t comply with the new rules?

Yes, these rules are only for entry to the Schengen area. All British citizens arriving in the UK are required to produce a valid British passport satisfactorily establishing their identity and nationality. As long as the passport is valid at the time it is presented on entry into the UK, there is no requirement for it to be valid for a minimum period.

I live in Croatia and hold a UK driving licence, should I get a foreign licence now?

Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country you are living in before 29 March 2019. If you have not exchanged your UK licence after our exit from the EU, you will be subject to the domestic laws of that country and how they treat non-EU licence holders, which could mean needing to retake your driving test. Many EU Member States only recognise third country licences for up to 6 months. EU issued driving licences will continue to be recognised in the UK after our exit from the EU, including in a No Deal scenario.

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What if I want to return to the UK to live and have a Croatian driving licence?

If someone passed their driving test in the UK but then exchanged their UK licence for an EU licence as a result of moving to an EU country, they would be able re-exchange for a UK licence after exit, if they returned there to live.

I live in Croatia but I have family coming to visit me this year, bringing their car. What should they do?

If you are a visitor to Croatia from 29 March 2019, in the event that there is no EU Exit deal, you may need an International Driving Permit in addition to your UK driving licence to drive in EU and EEA countries. IDPs cannot be applied for from overseas by residents in the EU.

I am a UK national living in Croatia. Will I need to pay to receive healthcare in a no deal scenario?

The UK is seeking agreements to maintain peoples’ healthcare rights in a no-deal scenario as a top priority. Access to healthcare is vital. We are exploring options with Member States to ensure that people living in, working in, or visiting their countries can continue to access affordable healthcare and continue to receive their planned treatment. We have recently introduced legislation that will provide us with the legal basis we need to maintain the current arrangements, where Member States agree to do so bilaterally.

I am a UK state pensioner living in the EU, what will happen to my (S1) healthcare in a no deal scenario?

The UK is seeking agreements to maintain peoples’ healthcare rights in a no-deal scenario as a top priority. We will keep you updated as these agreements progress.

I am a UK resident who will be visiting Croatia on or after Exit Day. How will I be covered for healthcare and will my EHIC still work?

The UK is seeking agreements to maintain peoples’ healthcare rights in a no-deal scenario as a top priority. We will keep you updated as these agreements progress. We already recommend purchasing travel insurance to ensure you can travel safely. This will be just as important if there is no deal.

I’m a Croatian national wanting to travel to the UK after 29th March – can I?

If you are a Croatian national with an enquiry regarding travelling to the UK after March 29th as a visitor or to work or study (if the UK exits the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement), please see the latest information here. If you are a Croatian national wishing to settle in the UK please consult the information here on the UK Settled Status Scheme.

 

Useful links for more information

The Government has already published advice on travelling to the EU with a UK passport in the event of a no deal:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/travelling-to-the-eu-with-a-uk-passport-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/travelling-to-the-eu-with-a-uk-passport-if-theres-no-brexit-deal?fbclid=IwAR1iOOSrO9qC-HbHbIAWkTI8XZSRjKu3RhKlV0gRL2O_tyNStx5KwXDY3G8


HM Passport Office has provided an online checker on www.gov.uk to allow you (British passport holders) to see if you have enough validity to travel.


To convert a UK licence to a Croatian one, go to https://www.mup.hr.

I am a UK national living in Croatia. Where can I find further information on healthcare cover in a no deal scenario? All information regarding healthcare abroad can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/

Visit Living in Croatia guide for practical information, such as how to register as a resident. You can receive email alerts whenever the guide is updated by signing up here.

 

The rains that started falling late last night unfortunately didn’t stop for the biggest day on the Dubrovnik calendar, the Festivity of St. Blaise.

The holy mass this morning was moved from in front of the Dubrovnik Cathedral to inside and then as the rains seems to get even heavier it was decided that the procession would be canceled.

The rains quite clearly put off many people from coming to the historic Old City this morning for the celebrations and the Stradun, which is normally packed for the day of St. Blaise, was relatively empty.

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The heavy rains that fell on the wider Dubrovnik region not only caused havoc to the Festivities of St. Blaise in the Old City but also caused some flooding.

In Mlini, in the parish of Župa, just south of Dubrovnik the rain brought water flooding down the mountainside and the normally gentle steam through the centre of the village was a raging torrent.

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Check out the video from today

A Chinese citizen has appeared in court after being charged with public order offences that saw him singing Croatian ultranationalist songs. The Chinese man was caught on video singing Ustasha songs and waving flags of the fascist movement.

The Ustasha, Croatian Revolutionary Movement, was a Croatian fascist organization, active, in its original form, between 1929 and 1945.

Imotski police officers have completed criminal investigations over a 60-year-old Croatian citizen and 43-year-old Chinese citizens on suspicion of committing the violation of Article 5 of the Law on Public Order and Peace Offenses, reports Dalmatinski Portal.

- Based on the received announcement from the 1st of February 2019, that video clips and photographs of people singing songs and highlighting symbols that disturb the public order and peace were published on social media networks, we immediately undertake police investigations. It was found that the mentioned content was recorded on the street and in a catering facility in Imotski, the indictment was brought to the Misdemeanour Court – commented the Split – Dalmatia Police force.

After visiting the Peljesac Bridge, the Minister of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, commented on the fate of Croatia Airlines. He announced that the Croatian national airline was “ready for privatization.”

The Minister added when asked by journalists about the privatisation project of Croatia Airlines that the “process was ongoing.”

"At the next session of the Government, or after that, a decision will be made by the commission, which will monitor the entire process of finding a strategic partner. The management has begun the process of selecting a financial advisor, so all preparatory actions or concrete actions are working, and we will see who are all the interested parties,” added Butković.

He concluded that there are many interested parties in the airline but what not go into naming specific companies. It was rumoured before that the German airline giant Lufthansa was interested in buying Croatia Airlines however nothing as yet has materialised from this news.

Today is the day that citizens of Dubrovnik live for all year – the Festivity of St. Blaise. Unfortunately, the heavens opened this morning and it is a grey and wet day in the Old City of Dubrovnik. And due to the bad weather the traditional holy mass was held inside the Dubrovnik Cathedral this morning as opposed to outside in front of this iconic sacral building.

The mass this morning in the Dubrovnik Cathedral was led by the former priest of the Dubrovnik Diocese, msgr. Petar Palić, who is now the bishop of Hvar.

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“In our society, in the Christian West, we Christians need Blaises’s courage, perseverance, and uncompromising faith when it comes to God's truths. We do not want to turn our squares into the square of St. Peter, but we want to be clear and say everywhere that we testify with our lives that we belong to Jesus Christ,” opened Bishop Palić.

Adding that “The voice of Christians in the Church and in the world must be a cry, not shaky…We should be more like St. Blaise, in love with Christ and allow him to make our being with our spirit change us. Long Live St. Blaise!”

Among the numerous guests this morning in the Dubrovnik Cathedral were representatives of the City and the County, as well as the Croatian Prime Minister and the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

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The President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, met with members of the Dubrovnik Fire Brigade yesterday. Members of the Dubrovnik Fire Brigade and the Dubrovnik – Neretva County Office met with the President as she visited the city for the celebrations of St. Blaise.

The firefighters Dubrovnik welcomed the President in front of the church of St. Blaise and the meeting were held in the city hall.

2018 was an extremely busy year for the firefighters in the Dubrovnik – Neretva County and the President thanked them for their courage, dedication and hard work. The biggest fire of last year happened on the Peljesac Peninsular around the town of Orebić. This was quickly followed by a large forest fire in the Metković area.

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