Saturday, 27 November 2021
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

Croatia have qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after a tense victory over Russia in their final group match.

An own goal was the difference between the two teams as Croatia ran out 1-0 winners over Russia in Split.

The Croatian national football team will play for the sixth time at the World Cup next year in Qatar, in the decisive match for the first place in Group H, the Croatia defeated Russia 1-0 (0-0) in front of more than 30,000 spectators in Split. The weather played a part. Heavy rain fell through the whole match and the pitch was badly water-logged.

The goal that sent Croatia to Qatar was an own goal by Russian stopper Fyodor Kudryashov in the 81st minute.

“We deserved to win for the way we played and didn’t give up. We were patient and deserved, with the number of chances we made, to win and to go to the World Cup,” said captain Luka Modrić directly after the match.

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Would the last person to leave Croatia please turn the lights off!

Over two decades ago when I arrived here I remember doing some research about my new home, you know just to get a feel for the society I was becoming part of. One of the facts that stuck in my head was the population, or around 4.2 million.

A few months before emigrating to Dubrovnik I had been on a trip to Ireland. And my first impressions of Croatia were its similarity with the Emerald Isle, it just had the same feeling. Apart from the religious question, the friendliness of the people and the relaxed way of life, both of the countries populations were similar in size.

Both countries had had a turbulent past and both were looking forward to a brighter future. Both were trying to attract fresh investment and looking to foreign companies to bolster their economies. A few years later and Croatia joined Ireland in the EU family. The injection of EU funds has come at a huge cost. Yes, we might have a shining new bridge at Pelješac but will we have anyone left to use it.

It was destined to be a wake-up call but the new census seems more depressing than we all believed. No official data has yet to be released, but if we are to believe the leaked reports then the population has dropped below, well below 4 million.

Early figures indicate, and the official census results will be published in mid-January, that Croatia now has 3.88 million inhabitants. Just before the Homeland War that figure was closer to 4.7 million, and yes the war of course took its toll on the population. However, 30 years later and the number is dropping as fast as a pebble in the Adriatic. Since 2011 roughly the population has shrunk by 300,000.

 

 

Croatia suffers from a combination of factors: it has more deaths than births, a negative migration balance, meaning an overall population decline. And with such an aging population the future is looking less bright. Without doubt one of the reasons for the collapse in the population is the “free market” for workers. And here Ireland comes back into our story.

Don't blame workers for wanting to support their families 

When I was on my Ireland trip there were virtually no Croatians on the island, today it is estimated that 20,000 Croatians call Dublin, Cork and Galway home. Of course Ireland wasn’t the first destination, Germany took that role, probably followed by Sweden and Italy. You can’t blame these migrant workers for wanting to earn money to support their families, its human nature to want to improve your situation.

If the blame is to be laid at anyone’s door, then it should be laid at the doors of the country’s “so called” leaders. Whereas one country has been successful in attracting huge amounts of foreign investment, the other one hasn’t. Croatia’s closed and complicated investment policy, or as I often hear from business people ABC – Anything But Croatia, has forced the younger, educated population to look elsewhere.

Whilst Ireland were attracting Google to open their main European office in the country we are still unable to rebuild Dubrovnik hotels that have remained as a monument to the war, and indeed our incompetence.

Croatian tourism can't operate without Ex-Yugoslavia 

We have even managed to get ourselves in the situation that our tourism industry, the main feeder to the GDP, can’t function without workers from the former Yugoslavia. Without seasonal workers from these neighbouring countries we simply don’t have enough people to fill the positions in hotels, restaurants, cafés, etc. The number of foreign workers is rising year on year and Ex-Yugoslavians are leading the way.

If you were wondering about the differences today in population between Ireland and Croatia, two countries that two decades ago were similar in size, then you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Whilst Croatia has an estimated 3.8 million people, Ireland has 4.9 million, that’s quite a swing in 20 years. And all we here from our leaders is that they are doing their best. As the great Winston Churchill once said “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

In the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, 91 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the last 24 hours.

These are 43 males and 48 females: 37 from Dubrovnik, 15 from Konavle, 14 from Župa dubrovačka, 7 from Vela Luka, five each from Korčula and Orebić, 3 from Smokvica, 2 from Ston and one each from Blato, Janjina and Metković.

One female person from Dubrovnik died (born 1930)

124 people made a full recovery: 52 from Dubrovnik, 13 from Konavle and Župa Dubrovačka, 12 from Metković, 9 from Vela Luka, 7 from Orebić, 6 from Ploče, 5 from Korčula, 2 from Opuzen and one person each from Dubrocačko primorje, Lastovo, from Lumbarda, Slivno and Smokvica.

In the last 24 hours, 475 samples were processed, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 161,276 samples have been analyzed.

52 people tested positive for coronavirus were hospitalized in the Dubrovnik General Hospital, seven patients required intensive care and were on ventilators. 

There are 1,794 people in self-isolation, and in the last 24 hours no violation of the self-isolation measure was recorded. 

 

On Saturday, 28,170 people were vaccinated against in Croatia, of which a record 19,198 received the first dose, so the number of people who received the first dose in Croatia since the start of vaccination reached 50.35 percent of the total population, and 60.19 percent of the total population.

On Saturday, the second dose was also received by 2,359 people and the third by 6,613 people.

The total number of people who have received the first is 2,043,475, which is 50.35 percent of the total population, of which 2,022,551 are adults, which means that the share of vaccinated adults is 60.18 percent.

"I thank all our fellow citizens who decided to get vaccinated and we invite everyone else to get vaccinated. We can now conclude that there are more people who have been vaccinated than those who have not yet decided to take that step,” said the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, Krunoslav Capak.

The highest coverage of vaccinated with the first dose was achieved in the City of Zagreb: 58.9 percent of the total population, or 70.6 percent of the adult population, and completed vaccination was achieved in the City of Zagreb, 53.2 percent of the total population, or 64.1 of the adult population.

The share of vaccinated increases from lower to higher age groups up to the age of 70-74, and at the age of 70-74 the highest share of vaccinated is 87.65 percent for the first dose. At the age of 65 and over, 638,318 people or 74.8 percent with one dose and 594,036 people or 69.6 percent with two doses were vaccinated.

The least vaccinated are in Bjelovar-Bilogora County 42.1, with the first dose and 37.9 with both doses, then in Zadar 42 and 38.9 percent, in Šibenik-Knin 42.4 and 39.3 percent, and in Split-Dalmatia 42.5 and 38.2 percent.

 

Canadian leisure airline Air Transat have announced the reintroduction of a seasonal scheduled flight between Toronto and Zagreb for next year.

Air Transat announced its flight schedule for the next summer season in Montreal this week, and Zagreb is among 44 world destinations, reports Croatian Aviation.

With the start of the summer flight schedule, this well-known Canadian airline will gradually increase the number of operations to Europe (from Montreal and Toronto). In the summer of 2022, the company plans to operate to almost all destinations as before the global pandemic, adding new ones, mostly in the United States.

From the largest Canadian city, Air Transat plans to operate 13 international routes to Europe, including the one to the Croatian capital. At the peak of the summer season, this carrier will have almost 60 weekly flights from Toronto to the Netherlands, Greece, Croatia, Great Britain, France and other European countries.

The company planned to resume traffic between Canada and Croatia this summer as well, but due to restrictive measures in Canada and weak demand, this still did not happen.

The first flight from Toronto to Zagreb has been announced for Saturday, May 7, 2022. A month later, from June 7, a second weekly flight with departure from Toronto on Tuesday will be introduced. Two weeks a flight are currently announced until the end of the next summer season, October 29.

 

With the cold, well relatively cold, November weather here and the summer months already a distant memory we are looking forward to Christmas in the city.

But just to warm our souls we’re looking back at the warmer months of this year thanks to a stunning video sent to us by a reader, Victoria.

Check out the video and enjoy the view of Dubrovnik

On Friday, the Fitch agency raised Croatia's credit rating by one level, from 'BBB-' to 'BBB', with a positive outlook.

This is the best credit rating in the history of the Republic of Croatia.

The agency points out that Croatia will be in a position to become a member of the Eurozone in January 2023, a little earlier than the agency predicted, and within the deadline set by the government, thanks to meeting the criteria of convergence and structural reforms and political support.

The adoption of the euro will support Croatia's rating, and the positive outlook reflects the potential for further improvement, Fitch said.

Croatian economy is “much stronger” than expected

The agency adds that the growth of the Croatian economy is "much stronger" than they expected, emphasizing the better results of the tourism sector and the continued resilience of exports.

Fitch predicts “sustainable economic momentum” in 2022-2023. with average GDP growth of 4 percent, despite “some persistent short-term risks associated with recurring pandemic challenges and the potential detrimental effects of higher energy costs on the corporate sector”.

It also expects that public debt measured by its share in GDP will fall by about 3 percentage points per year in the period 2021-2023, to 77.9 percent of GDP.

 

The Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) has published new data on the number of vaccinations, which have intensified greatly in the last week. Over the past three days there have been long queues outside of vaccination stations up and down the country.

31,406 doses were used on Thursday alone. The day before, on November 10, 27,621 people were vaccinated, of whom 16,747 received the first dose. The second dose was received by 3,527 people and the additional or third dose by 7,347 people.

"Such a large number of first doses was last recorded in early June," the CNIPH said in a report. By November 10, 49.06 percent of the total population and 58.67 percent of the adult population had been vaccinated.

The highest coverage of those vaccinated with the first dose was achieved in the city of Zagreb (57.6 percent) of the total population, or 69.2 percent of the adult population).

"More than 50,000 citizens have been vaccinated with the first dose in the past three days. They are part of a society of more than two million citizens who made a decision based on scientifically based facts. I call on the indecisive to do the same. Let's show we know and can do even better!" commented the Croatian Minister of Health, Vili Beros on his Twitter profile.

 

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