Monday, 22 October 2018
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

The former Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader, has been found guilty of war profiteering and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Sanader, the former leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was found guilty of taking a bribe from Hypo Bank from Austria to purchase properties around the world to be used as embassies. At the time Sanader was the deputy Prime Minister and as these offences occurred in the early 1990’s when Croatia was in the middle of the Homeland War he was charged with war profiteering.

The judge in monday’s guilty verdict, pending appeal, also ordered Sanader to return around 500,000 Euros that was paid to him by Hypo Bank as a sweetener to seal the loan deal with the then government.

After the trial Sanader once again claimed that he wasn’t a war profiteer.

In fact, Sanader will be busy in court as he will face more charges of corruption with his role in the MOL case in which he is accused of taking a bribe. It is alleged that Sanader took a bribe from an executive of the Hungarian oil company MOL to facilitate the sale of the state owned INA company. The Constitutional Court quashed the ruling in 2015 and requested a retrial, that retrial is planned to start on Tuesday.

Nautical tourism is by far the most profitable and an area that Croatia should concentrate on in the future. According to figures from the Croatian Chamber of Economy nautical tourists spent €126 per day in Croatia which is about 40 percent more than the daily spending of the average tourist.

On the end of the Biograd Boat Show, which took place between the 18th and 21st of October, bringing together over 300 exhibitors from all over Europe the Croatia National Tourist summed up the importance of nautical tourism in the country.

In the first nine months of 2018, over 440,000 tourist arrivals and over three million overnight stays were registered in nautical tourism, commented the director of the National Tourist Board, Kristjan Stanicic, and added that the leading markets for nautical tourists in Croatia were Germany and Austria.

The national airline of Croatia, Croatia Airlines, is looking for a buyer as it looks for new owners by 2020 at the latest.

For years the airline has been propped up by government subsidies and only survives thanks to having a monopoly of internal flights inside Croatia. The airline, although it has a strong safety record, has struggled for years to find a unique position in the European market with many of the company’s decisions questioned by tourism experts in the country. And now the end of the road is near and the airline will be privatised. This change of ownership would bring much needed finance, but also undoubtedly a loss of jobs.

The CEO of Croatia Airlines, Jasmin Bajić, commented that "In accordance with the 2018 National Reform Programme, adopted by the government, Croatia Airlines has prepared a tender call for the procurement of financial advisory services to seek out the appropriate module to recapitalise and find a strategic partner. The key goal is for this reputable partner to increase our share capital and future business operations. In other words, to find strategic partner(s) that will assist with the implementation of our fleet plans and provide synergies for the company, while also taking into consideration the wider impact of such a transaction."

That was the week that was. It has been a turbulent week to say the least. As my mother would say “I haven’t known if I’m coming or going.” It’s not often that I get to listen to God Save the Queen played by a British military band in front of a red double-decker bus overlooking the walls of the Old City of Dubrovnik.

Yes, the British Days in Dubrovnik event swallowed my week whole and spat me out the other side. My emotions were running all over the place. I was celebrating the connections between Dubrovnik and Great Britain. If I can’t be happy, proud and passionate whilst being involved with something like that then there is something wrong with me. “How do you feel being part of this event?” asked one journalist. “My heart is the size of a balloon,” was the first answer that came into my head.

I opened an art exhibition, presented a pub quiz, opened the whole event and sang with The Beatles and that was just in the three days. Standing on Pile with a cup of English tea in my hands in the shade of a London bus from 1964 whilst watching tourists enter into the historic core isn’t something I get to do every day. I sipped English gin which isn’t a drink I’m particularly fond of as it was the first alcoholic drink that I got drunk with, but I didn’t care.

One minute I was speaking English to the Military Attaché from the British Embassy and the next Croatian with a local restaurant owner, my brain was like mashed potato after day one. My two worlds were colliding right in front of my eyes and I was loving it.

The only event that would bring me as much personal joy would be organising a Dubrovnik Days in London, but I better whisper that as someone might take me up on that idea. And every event was so readily embraced, so well attended. As the first chords of “Love Me Do” opened the concert by The Beatles Revival Band in front of the St. Blaise and I saw the mixture of locals and tourists all singing along and dancing my balloon-sized heart nearly exploded. “Does this happen every night? It’s great!” a slightly elderly man from Manchester asked me. “Not every,” I smiled back.

To see so many people just having a good night out, well, that was enough for me to know it was a successful event and it all added to the rich Dubrovnik entertainment program. Yes, rich program. To all those people who say “Oh, there isn’t anything to do in Dubrovnik.” I say, get your lazy backsides off the couch and get out. This year the festivals of different events have rolled from one to another. I can honestly say that this has been the busiest year on the event calendar that I can ever remember. But if all you want to do is sit around and drink coffee and moan, well that’s your prerogative. But I don’t want to concentrate on the negative, god knows there’s enough of that around anyway.

Brexit was forgotten as the two cultures joined. In the pub quiz, a pub quiz that only involved questions about the UK, there were four teams from the UK and nine from Dubrovnik. But, to my pleasant surprise, there wasn’t a huge difference in the scores. Yes, a team from the UK won but they did have the slight advantage of having a Cambridge professor on their team. But “local” teams finished second and third. I say local because all week I have been mixing up “ours” and “yours”. I guess I am now neither “yours” or “theirs” but somewhere in the middle.

Of course there were slightly Monty Python moments – the English guests forming a queue to get on the London bus was eyebrow raising. And as quickly as it came it went. And life goes back to normal. Who am I kidding. Life is too short to be normal.

The days of double taxation between Croatia and Japan are over with the signing of an agreement today. The Croatian Minister of Finance, Zdravko Marić, and Kenji Yamada, the Japanese vice-minister for Foreign Affairs signed a bilateral taxation agreement in Zagreb.

This new agreement includes a number of tax breaks and improves conditions for trade relations between the two countries, commented the Minister of Finance.

"Japan is one of the model economies and opportunities for cooperation with Japan have increased since Croatia joined the European Union in 2013. We want to be recognised as not just a country for tourists, but also develop our economy in various sectors, and Japan's experience in that, and this agreement, can help," commented Zdravko Marić.

90 percent of Croatia’s exports to Japan is tuna from the Adriatic Sea with almost 3,000 tonnes exported in 2016. The new double taxation agreement now has to be ratified by the Croatian parliament.

However, there is also hope that Croatian wine could make an impact on the Japanese market, with the Japanese minister stating that “Croatia's wines could become increasingly recognised in Japan, and the number of Japanese companies doing business in Croatia would also increase.”

Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik Mato Franković and representatives from the City of Dubrovnik visited the video surveillance centre today in the premises of the Administrative Department for Transport.

In is centre recordings of the video surveillance system of public spaces in the City of Dubrovnik are projected. The system consists of over one hundred cameras deployed on the 48 most frequent places in the city and all of these cameras are connected to the video surveillance centre which is staffed 24 hours a day.

gt5565667

According to Mayor Franković, the goal of the cameras set is not punishment, but to ensure a safer flow of traffic. In the realization of this project, the City of Dubrovnik has invested 230 thousand Kuna.

In addition to the City of Dubrovnik (the Traffic Management Department of the Transport Office), the Police Department of the County is also a registered user of this video equipment. And the system serves for the control of improper parking and traffic monitoring, as well as increasing security, combating crime and detecting perpetrators.

5fe4trhzhu898

Looking for a unique villa on the Adriatic Sea? Have you got €4.3 million burning a hole in your pocket? This could be the opportunity for you. The Croatian government is selling a villa on the island of Vis and the starting price is 32 million Kuna.

The Croatian government has made a decision to sell a former Yugoslav National Army barracks on the island of Vis known as Czech Villa. The starting price is 32 million and 100 thousand Kuna and the spatial plan envisages the construction of tourist and catering facilities.

The Minister of State Property, Goran Marić, has commented that he believes the total final investment into the villa will be around 100 million Kuna.

Offers for the purchase of the villa need to be submitted by the end of this month. "I hope that there will be interest even though it is on an island, we will see,” added the Minister.

vis villa for sale

 

Zagreb may well be the largest city in Croatia and somewhat unsurprisingly generated the largest income in 2017 but Dubrovnik is certainly punching well above its level.

According to data released by the Institute for Public Finances the City of Zagreb produced an income of 6.57 billion Kuna in 2017, which was over 40 percent of the total income of all city governments in 2017. The income per capita was 8,177 Kuna in the capital which was well below Dubrovnik.

In 2017 the City of Dubrovnik generated a huge 401 million Kuna. And in comparison to the 8,177 Kuna per capita in Zagreb the City of Dubrovnik recorded 9,139 making it the seventh most productive city in the country out of 128 officially designated cities or towns. In terms of overall income only Zagreb, Rijeka and Split generated a higher income. But bearing in mind that Zagreb has a population of 803,000, Rijeka 121,000 and Split 172,000 and Dubrovnik only has 44,000 it shows the impressive level that the city has reached.

In fact, the average income of the 20 counties in Croatia was 202 million Kuna, showing that the City of Dubrovnik generated almost twice as much as many of the counties.

Whilst on the other hand the expenditure of the City of Dubrovnik was 368 million Kuna. Again this figure was only beaten by Zagreb, Rijeka and Split. Many other major Croatian cities with double and treble the population of Dubrovnik were well below these figures.

Croatia is administratively divided into 128 officially designated cities or towns and 428 municipalities at the lowest level of government, with all 556 having the same level of local authority, which are grouped into 20 larger counties. The City of Zagreb is both a city and an extra county.

The report analysed budgets of all units of local government in the country, and calculated their spending and income per capita.

Mostly cloudy

18°C

Dubrovnik

Mostly cloudy
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NE at 38.62 km/h
Wednesday
Partly cloudy
12°C / 21°C
Thursday
Sunny
15°C / 19°C
Friday
Mostly sunny
14°C / 21°C
Saturday
Rain
20°C / 22°C

The Voice of Dubrovnik

THE VOICE OF DUBROVNIK


Find us on Facebook

Newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter