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.
Slovenia has become the latest European Union member country to open its borders to Croatian workers. As of the 1st of July this year Croatians will no longer require a work visa for neighbouring Slovenia.
The Slovenian Labour Ministry announced on Friday that work restrictions for Croatian would be lifted as of the 1st of July. The Ministry commented that “Considering the current situation on Slovenia's labour market, low unemployment rates and a big workforce shortage, there was no need to extend the restriction on Croatian workers for another two years.”
It is believed that between 1,000 and 2,000 Croatians with work permits were employed in Slovenia last year, however with a lifting of restrictions this number is sure to increase.
Earlier this year the Slovenian government put forward a bill to continue with work visas for Croatian until 2020, however this proposed bill didn’t pass through parliament and therefore the restrictions will be lifted. It is believed that the Croatian government will now follow suit and lift the work visas for Slovenians wishing to work in the country.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands have also recently announced a lifting of work visas for Croatian nationals as of the 1st of July this year. The only EU member still to lift the work restrictions is Austria.
It certainly turned heads this morning. At anchor between the island of Lokrum and the historic Old City is a rather unusual looking super yacht. “Shadow” is fresh onto the seas and this is her first visit to Dubrovnik.
This is a super yacht with a difference, an explorers yacht, as it features a number of separate modes of transport, in fact Shadow is classed as a support vessel motor yacht. With a helicopter landing pad, enough space on the deck for two extra speedboats and even room for a small seaplane, this is a yacht for the adventurous types.
With three cabins and a capacity of six guests and 20 crew it’s a height of luxury and was completed in 2017 in the Netherlands. Shadow is not for charter, however similar ships in her range go for around $75,000 a week.
Croatia will mark five years of European Union independence on Sunday the 1st of July and according to information from the Croatian Chamber of Commerce the country has benefited economically for membership.
The Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK) said that by joining the EU on July 1, 2013 Croatia had achieved one of its main foreign policy objectives and formally became part of the European single market.
With full membership has come the benefits of not having tariffs on exports to EU countries and this has led to a strong increase in exports. However, it also means that other EU members can export their goods to Croatia much easier and cheaper.
Figure indicate that over the past five years, or since becoming a full member of the Union, Croatian exports have increased by a massive 56 percent, with exports directly to the EU leaping 70 percent.
By joining the EU, Croatia has also gained access to €10.7 billion in grants from EU's structural and investment funds. The latest figures provided by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds showed that contracts worth €4.8 billion have been concluded by May 31 this year, which amounts to 45 percent of the total funds earmarked for Croatia, with 8 percent of the total allocation already paid out to end users.
Rain, storms, grey skies and a depressed population often all stem from one weather condition in Dubrovnik – a southerly wind.
The south wind, known as the jugo, is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and when it blows it tends to dump large quantities of rain all over the Dubrovnik region. And the heavy air and moisture throws most of the city into a bleak depression.
In fact, the effects are so widespread that during the time of the Republic of Dubrovnik a special law was brought in. whenever the jugo or sirocco blew no Council session or decisions or laws were allowed to take place. Quite simply the south wind, and its negative connotations for people’s health, closed down the city council.
A famous Dubrovnik author, Tereza Buconic, summed it up when she wrote “One does not even like oneself when jugo is blowing so how can a decision be made about another with such a confused mind.” Even crimes that were committed during heavy southerly winds were treated with more leniency.
Check out more from our series From the Archives
What’s in the name of Dubrovnik
Croatia’s population is shrinking rapidly. According to a new report published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Vienna Institute of Demography and reported by the news service N1 since 1990 the population has shrunk by 13 percent.
The population of Western Europe keeps growing largely thanks to immigration, while Eastern Europe has been hit with serious population drain, a recently published analysis by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Vienna Institute of Demography showed.
The survey highlights the difference between populations across Europe from the period of 1990 to 2017. And it is clear from their findings that south-eastern Europe is struggling with a major demographic problem.
The country with the highest drop in population was Bosnia and Herzegovina which saw a massive 22 percent loss of citizens within the 17-year time period. And a large proportion of this loss can be put down to the war in the region, however more recently the situation hasn’t improved as people leave for financial reasons.
At the other end of the scale Ireland saw the largest growth in population, an incredible 36 percent, followed by Switzerland with 26 percent and Norway with 24 percent. But in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, Moldavia, Bulgaria and Lithuania more than 20 percent of the population immigrated.
The rate of unemployment in Croatia is steadily falling. At the end of May the unemployment rate fell from 10.4 percent to 9.2 percent. Over 1.40 million people were employed in Croatia in May, up by 2 percent from April, of which 1.19 million were employed in companies, or 1.5 percent up, the national statistics bureau said on Wednesday.
Somewhat unsurprisingly the number of people employed in the tourism industry rose as the tourist season began.
At the end of May, there were almost 142,000 jobless people registered with the state employment bureau, down by 17,800 or 11.1 percent from April. As a result, May's unemployment rate fell to 9.2 percent from 10.4 percent in April.
Croatia continued their impressive World Cup 2018 campaign with a relatively comfortable win over a determined Iceland team in their final Group D match and they are picking up praise from all over the world for the way they have been playing.
The former Manchester United and England defender, Phil Neville, who is now the coach of the England women’s national team commented for the BBC that “I like the style of play. They are solid at the back, the three in midfield control the game and Mario Mandzukic is an animal up front.” He added that “Croatia have probably been the best team in the competition. In terms of consistent performances they have been the best team in the competition. If Denmark play like they did today, I can't see them beating Croatia.” And the former Manchester United star is not the only pundit talking up Croatia’s chances at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
A midfield that features Luka Modric, the captain, from Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic, from Barcelona, Marcelo Brozovic, from Inter Milan and Ivan Perisic also from Inter Milan have so far dominated the group. And with Mario Mandukic from Juventus and Ante Rebic from Eintracht Frankfurt, they have power and goals up front. The defence is led by Dejan Lovren, from Liverpool, and Domagoj Vida, from Beşiktaş. In fact, from the 23 players picked to play at this year’s World Cup only two play in the Croatian league, the third choice goalkeeper, Dominik Livaković, at Dinamo Zagreb and Filip Bradaric at Rijeka. Six players come from the Serie A, the Italian league, and four players from La Liga in Spain.
The BBC’s South American expert, Tim Vickery, also heaped praise on Croatia, “What a midfield Croatia have. They are the team who could do serious damage. I saw them at Anfield when they played Brazil and in the first half Brazil couldn't get out of their own half.”
Croatia now face Denmark in the first match of the final stages on Sunday the 1st of July in Nizhny Novgorod. Denmark, at least according to the FIFA World rankings, should be slight favourites for the game as they are ranked 12th in the world and Croatia are in 20th position. However, the experts and the pundits, and the bookmakers, clearly have Croatia as the favourites to progress past the Danes.
If you fancy a little flutter on Croatia winning the World Cup the odds have dropped and now range from 12/1 to 14/1 however they are strong favourites with the bookmakers to beat Denmark and progress into the quarter finals in Sochi where they will face the winners of the Spain and Russia match.
Where did Dubrovnik’s summer disappear? The city awoke to grey skies, rain and a fresh northerly wind as it felt more like October than June.
This June has been unusually unsettled with thunder storms and overcast skies. And the forecast for the rest of this week is for more cooler and unstable weather. Highs are expected to reach 25 degrees today and rain will fall for most of the day. The rain and cooler weather will continue all the way to Saturday.
Sunday will see summer return with clear skies and rising temperatures. “Variable cloudiness, showers or thunderstorm,” reads the weather forecast for Dubrovnik today, so not a day to be without your umbrella.