Monday, February 28, 2011

Get to know Croatia in one minute

Roger Helmer gives a brief speech describing Croatia. It's all true despite the title. (Title translation: Roger Helmer makes fun of Croatia and it's EU application )

Unrest in Croatia - Thousands of war vets rally in Zagreb

Croatian police clashed with some of the 15,000 anti-government protesters who rallied in the capital Saturday, and state television reported that officers used tear gas to disperse the group. At least 25 people were injured.
Dozens of mostly young demonstrators charged at a police cordon preventing them from reaching a central square in Zagreb where the government headquarters is located, Croatian TV said.
The protesters threw stones and bricks at police, who responded with tear gas, the report said, adding that several people were injured and nearby windows were broken. Police set up metal fences to corral the crowd, the report added, describing the situation as "chaos."
Croatian police said they detained 60 protesters and that 12 police and 13 citizens were injured.
The protests in Zagreb come just two days after several hundred protesters clashed with police at another anti-government rally. Many Croats blame the government for economic hardship and alleged corruption.
At another Zagreb square, thousands protested peacefully against the government and in support of a Croat war veteran awaiting extradition to Serbia in a Bosnian prison. They carried banners reading "Croat defenders are heroes" and "Stop the prosecution of Croat defenders."
The organizers, veterans' groups from Croatia's 1991-95 war, said hundreds of protesters were prevented by police from reaching the event, the Hina news agency reported.
About 1,000 people gathered at a similar protest in the eastern town of Osijek, demanding the government's ouster, Hina reported. The agency said that protest was organized through Facebook as was the rally in Zagreb on Thursday.
Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor has urged an end to the protests, warning that instability could undermine Croatia's efforts to join the European Union. President Ivo Josipovic has appealed for the protests to remain peaceful

Source: AP

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mesic to lead Croatian businessmen to Libya despite unrest

Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic has said he will not give up his plan to take Croatian businessmen to Libya even as protests continue to engulf the country.

"The current situation in Libya does not change my plans to take a trip there together with some Croatian businessmen. Interests are interests, and contracts are contracts. It does not mean that agreements mustn’t be made there, because someone is protesting" Mesic said.

Mesic has good relations with Libya’s head Muammar el-Qaddafi and has tried to facilitate business agreements between this North African country and Croatian businessmen. He remains confident that Qaddafi is not behind the violence against the protesters that has claimed, according to NGOs, more than 200 lives.

"It is hard for me to link Qaddafi to an order to shoot the protesters. As far as I know him, he freed those that courts sentenced for opposing him. Libya must find strength to investigate this big drama and determine who had ordered the killing of the protesters," Mesic said.

Protests swept Libya days after those in Egypt and Tunis led to the deposition of those countries’ dictators. (

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bombs and bullets dumped in a dust bin

Street sweepers in Croatia were shocked after seeing a street dust bin full of ammunition.

The sweepers in the Adriatic port of Split alarmed police and officers who soon announced that the bin contained two bombs and 250 different bullets in a dust bin.

The police is trying to find out who dumped the bombs and bullets in the dust bin.(Source: Croatian Times)

Blind Croat wins taekwondo gold

Slobodna Dalmacija /Mario Pušić / Cropix
A blind man from Croatia has won a gold medal at a taekwondo competition in the capital Zagreb, despite being the only competitor with a disability.

Mirsad Becirovic from the town of Karlovac has been dubbed the first blind person in the world to win a taekwondo gold medal in a regular competition.

The 36-year-old has revealed that he will try to make it to the Paralympic Games in London, but will have to compete in judo as they do not have taekwondo there.

Mirsad Becirovic became blind after an accident in 1998.

"I was at rock bottom but I decided to fight", said Mirsad Becirovic to daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Podravka refuses to battle Japanese anime for brand name rights

Vegeta the Saiyan

Croatian food manufacturer Podravka’s signature product Vegeta has an unlikely internet foe – a Japanese anime character by the same name that seems to be grabbing all of the hits from Google searches.

Podravka’s Vegeta is a blend of cooking spices, the recipe for which is kept a top secret. The Japanese Vegeta, on the other hand, is a prince, a spiky-haired hero of popular animated films "Dragon Ball," authored by Akira Toriyama.
Vegeta the spice

Podravka’s legal advisers are not even thinking of waging a war against the popular character as it is unlikely that the hero could damage the well-known spice brand, the daily Jutarnji List writes.

"The cartoon started airing in 1998 and it is very popular in Japan. But that does not affect the reputation and the sales of Vegeta," says Podravka’s spokesperson.

"Still, it is not really pleasant when so many of those violent pictures jump out onto the screen instead of our product," they add.

(Source: CroatianTimes)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Croatian police exhume suspected mass grave in Zagreb containing post-WWII victims

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatian police are digging up a Zagreb street, exhuming the bodies of German soldiers executed by antifascists in the aftermath of World War II.
Croatia's HINA news agency says Friday that nine bodies have been discovered so far.
Police said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that a probe into the suspected grave began last year after residents reported finding bones and parts of clothing nearby. It said exhumations started on Jan. 31.
HINA says 17 German soldiers were executed on the spot by communist partizan guerrillas in 1945.
Police say that more than 700 similar graves containing thousands of bodies are believed to exist throughout the country.

Source:  Winnipeg Free Press

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Initiative against Draft Acts on Higher Education, University and Science

Few months ago, Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports proposed new legislation concerning higher education, universities and science, which met with widespread opposition from members of the academia who viewed it as deeply flawed and harmful for Croatian science and education, as well as society in general. Now some members of the academic community are calling for a strike to express opposition to the proposed draft acts.

Initiative against Draft Acts on Higher Education, University and Science

In October 2010 the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports presented the draft acts on higher education, university and science which were met with severe opposition of the academic community. Most of the academic community, including the Faculty Council of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, completely rejected the drafts, stating them to be beyond repair. The drafts are to introduce:

1. further commercialization of science and higher education (e.g. their total subjugation to corporate interests which is particularly dangerous for humanities in the short term, and in the long term poses a threat to science, higher education and the whole society),
2. curbing of the university autonomy, political control over universities and science, university splits and further privatization of public education and public scientific institutes,
3. a completely unacceptable funding system for universities and scientific institutes based on the so-called Programme Contracts (which make the funding precarious and dependent on the outcomes of the negotiations with the Ministry for each three-year period),
4. a pyramidal system of work positions at the universities and institutes, which will block most of the academic workers from being promoted and force young scientists to leave the country, and
5. administrative enrolment fees instead of tuition fees, which will in effect draw additional funding directly from the pockets of students and citizens, making higher education even less accessible to widening layers of the society – which is exactly the contrary of the public needs, as well as the long standing demands of the Croatian students.

In spite of the opposition it is possible that the universities’ and institutes’ executives will give in to the government pressures and support the drafts with negligible changes.

The fundamental problems of the draft acts are not in specific regulations, but in the very intention behind them: if they are adopted, in whatever form, they will help bring down the Croatian science and higher education. Hence we have to decidedly and completely oppose them until their basic intention is changed.

How do we make the legislators hear our stance and take it into consideration? The most obvious and visible way is direct action: STRIKE of Croatian academic workers as a way of expressing disagreement with the new draft acts and the procedure of drafting and revising them.

To express solidarity and join the initiative, contact
For more information, visit: (in Croatian)

WWF warns against Croatia's river regulation projects

Croatia's new river regulation projects risk wiping out endangered species and run counter to the laws of the European Union that it aspires to join, the environmental WWF warned Thursday.

"We are very much concerned that new planned river regulation projects along all major rivers in Croatia are threatening unique natural areas and counteracting efforts of the EU to bring water management in line with EU policy and law," said WWF Austria expert Arno Mohl in a statement.

At issue are large-scale river regulation schemes planned by the Croatian water management authority, including sediment extraction and irrigation projects along the Danube, Drava, Mura, Sava and Neretva rivers.

These plans "would transform the natural meandering river stretches into a unified canal, fixed by stones, groins and embankments," the WWF statement said.

WWF warned that some 440 kilometers (273 miles) of natural river stretches of the Danube and Sava rivers could be regulated and destroyed, which is against the EU Water Framework Directive.

It would also impact Europe's largest floodplain forests and wetland areas and lead to the loss of several endangered species, it said.

It urged the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to ensure the projects were properly regulated and warned they could undermine Croatia's accession to the EU.

A delegation of local non-governmental groups, WWF and German-based foundation EuroNatur handed a protest letter on the matter to the head of the EU delegation here.

Croatia hopes to join the EU in 2012. (source:

Kosor to "bring Google to Croatia"

Croatian government is considering revising its policies regarding foreign investment to bring more foreign capital into the country’s IT sector, the daily Jutarnji List writes.

The Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor's new economic team intends to target IT companies, which have so far evaded Croatia in favour of entering the European markets through Ireland.

The recently-appointed Deputy PM in charge of investments, Domagoj Ivan Milosevic, said that he believes that Croatia could become the point of departure for many large IT companies working in the European southeast.

"We want to encourage investments in high technologies sector, because that is the branch in which we see the future," said Milosevic.

Croatia is one of the countries in Europe with the least investment in IT research and development. According to the Eurostat, Croatia has set aside only 0.84 per cent of its GDP for these activities, while the EU averages are 2.01 per cent.

Some European Union members like Denmark, Sweden or Finland invest over three per cent, which is the EU's overall target amount. These investments open up opportunities for highly educated workforce and increase the competitiveness of the economy, the daily writes.

The government is considering revising the Investment Promotion Act of 2007 in order to allow investors in the IT sector to reap the benefits of the same incentives under loosened criteria.

For example, an IT sector investor bringing 10 million Euros will not need to create 75 workplaces in order not to pay taxes on profits for the next decade but only 50.

The changes to the Act will be up for parliamentary debate in April at the latest. (source: croatian times)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Old news: 50 Cent doing cocaine in Croatia

50 Cent caught doing cocaine on croatian television:

And his response:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Croatia soon to lead Afghanistan operations?

Croatia288 Troops are involved in three locations, as of December 2010, Croatia has 320 troops in Afghanistan, but additional platoon is on its way to bolster this number, bringing total troop numbers to 350 by the end of 2010/11. Croatian parliament voted on extra troop numbers on 7 December with all party supporting troop increase, although parliament did recognise that additional increases in troop numbers might be possible during 2011 and 2012 to help train local army and police units.

According to the Croatian Times, Croatia will host three international NATO military and Partnership for Peace programme exercises, the Croatian government has decided in a closed meeting.

Croatian soldiers will also participate in five exercises abroad, the daily newspaper Vjesnik writes.

In the same meeting, the government has also decided to send 314 Croatian soldiers on a seven-month International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission to Afghanistan.

It seems the number was not only increased, but doubled.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ryanair from and to Rijeka!

Ryanair has signed an agreement to fly between the Croatian airport of Rijeka and London (also Stockholm)

Rijeka will be the fourth Croatian airport to have a connection from low budget liner Ryanair.

The agreement between Ryaniar and local authorities will stand for the next five years.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hungary reaffirms Croatia is priority for EU presidency mandate

The Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Janos Martony has said that his country's goal is to finish Croatia's membership negotiations by the end of the European Union presidency mandate if all requirements are fulfilled by that time.
With those words Martony concluded the General Affairs Council's (GAC) discussion about Hungarian priorities as it presides of over the EU for the next sixth months.
Few other delegates mentioned Croatia in their speeches, backing Martony's expectations that the country could finish negotiations by summer, the daily Vecernji List writes.

source: hic

Croatian Labour Party's Initiative – Open Letter for Government’s Resignation

Starting with February 1st Croatian Labour Party started the initiative calling the citizens to sign an open letter addressed to Croatian government and asking for their resignation. This initiative is inspired by the traditional list of seven deadly sins, in this case associated with the Croatian government's behaviour against the wellbeing and interests of its citizens. The action will tentatively last until February 15th and all the adult Croatian citizens are invited to sign the letter, either at the organized locations across the country or by downloading the document from the official Croatian Labour Party website and mailing it directly.

In case that the ultimate goal is achieved and the government resigns Croatia would have early parliamentary elections.

Lucky grandpa

After cheating death seven times, born lucky Frano Selak decided not to push the odds when he was invited to smooch a gourgeous female presenter live on TV.

Curvy brunette interviewer Daniela Trbovic asked the 82-year-old survivor for a kiss for luck on Croatian TV when he revealed how he'd managed to stay alive so many times - and win the lottery.

But cautious Frano stunned his host when he told her: "No way - I could get swine flu like that."

Frano survived two near drownings, falling out of a plane and landing in a haystack, a car that blew up on the motorway, a second car blaze, and being knocked down by a bus in the Croatian capital Zagreb.

His final death-defying stunt came when he managed to leap onto a tree when his car careered over a precipice down a 300ft drop from a mountainside.

His luck kept coming when he won 600,000 GBP on the local lottery six years ago.

"Frano is very happily married but his wife watches him like a hawk. His luck might run out for ever if she saw him kissing a pretty girl on TV," confided one family friend.

Austrian Times

Ceca in Zagreb, police fears violence

Serbian turbo folk diva Svetlana Ceca Raznatovic may not get permission to perform in Croatia out of fear that her concert could turn violent.

The Croatian police considers the event "high-risk" and may decide to ban the concert. Zagreb city administrators, the owners of Zagreb's Maksimir stadium where the concert would take place, say they would not oppose Ceca's performance as long as the Ministry of the Interior gives the event the green light.

Raznatovic was married to Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan," notorious leader of Serbian paramilitary forces indicted by International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes committed during the war in former Yugoslavia (1991-1995). He was killed in 2000.

In the controversy surrounding the concert, Ceca has managed to do something no one has done before - to unite the Croatian far-right and left in opposition, the daily Jutarnji List writes.

Milanka Opacic from the left-wing Social Democratic Party (SDP) said that her first reaction to learning about the possible concert was that Croatia's standards are dropping.

"I think that we must take into consideration the music she sings, but also the fact of who her husband was," Opacic said. The head of the far-right Croatian Party of Rights (HSP) said the party would protest if the concert receives a go ahead. The majority conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) did not comment, the daily writes.

Ceca is planning a concert at Zagreb’s Maksimir as part of the Balkan tour for her upcoming album.

source: croatian times

Will Croatian shipyards live?

The European Commission (EC) is expected to decide in the next 15 days whether to allow Croatian shipyards to take on new orders, the daily Vjesnik writes.

Solving the question of Croatia's ailing shipyards is a key condition for completing the European Union requirements on market competition. The European Union (EU) does not permit the state to support the shipyards as it had done in the past as this could lead to a more advantageous position on the market for some state subsidized firms. The Union has banned the companies from taking new orders.

Croatia offered up the shipyards for privatization last May and bidders have sent their reconstruction plans to Brussels for review. The EC is evaluating the proposals.

Just yesterday (Mon) it emerged that Samobor-based screws factory DIV could become the new owner of the Split's Brodosplit shipyard, the daily Vecernji List writes.

Some 4,000 of Brodosplit’s workers may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief after months of uncertainty over their employer’s fate since the company was offered up for privatization last May.

Source: Croatian Times

Possible USA-Croatia airplane connection

North American Airlines has been named as the charter airline interested in commencing flights from New York JFK Airport to Zagreb. The CEO of Zagreb Airport, Tonči Peović, revealed the news at a press conference last week. Zagreb is trying to attract North American by waiving landing fees. However, the two sides are still negotiating. Peović believes that the Zagreb Tourism Board should subsidise the airline by buying some 100 seats per flight. He continues by saying that the service will be profitable if the aircraft has a 65% cabin load factor. The new flights will operated either by a Boeing B757-200 or the B767-300.

North American Airlines is based at Kennedy Airport in New York. It operates scheduled flights within the United States and South America. The airline relies heavily on charters during the summer.

Talks between Zagreb Airport and North American Airlines are set to be finalised within the next few weeks.

Janaf published on Tuesday a tender for building new oil storage facilities

Croatian oil pipeline operator Janaf (JANF.ZA:) published on Tuesday a tender for building new oil storage facilities with an estimated value at about 1 billion kuna ($185.8 million).

"Building will be going on in several stages, while preparatory works will begin in mid-February. The actual building of the first three tanks will begin in May," Janaf said in a statement.

The storage tanks, with an overall capacity of 240,000 cubic metres, will be built on the northern Adriatic island of Krk, where Janaf already owns several such facilities.

The deadline for submitting bids is March 16, and Janaf plans to complete the whole project in 2015.

Janaf is some 82 percent-owned by the state and state-owned energy firms and agencies. The rest is owned by Croatian oil group INA (INA.ZA:), whose biggest shareholder is Hungary's MOL (MOLB.BU:), and several investment funds.

Janaf operates a pipeline that connects the northern Adriatic with central Croatia and on to Hungary and Serbia and owns storage facilities used by Croatia and neighbouring countries.

Janaf's installed transport capacity is 20 million tonnes annually.

Currently Janaf can store a bit over 1 million cubic metres of oil and derivatives, but its goal is to increase the capacity to 1.62 million cubic metres in the next few years.

Its shares were quoted at 3,301 kuna in afternoon trade on Tuesday, down 0.97 percent from Monday's close.

Source Reuters -

Croatia signs MOU with EU to break down e-barriers

The Republic of Croatia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EU to join the ISA Programme. ISA, which stands for "Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations", takes a practical approach in supporting easier communication between administrations across Europe.

Participation of the candidate countries in Union programmes is an important element of the Pre-Accession Strategy. By joining the ISA programme, Croatia will become familiar with EU policies in the field of interoperability, one of the key elements identified in the flagship initiative Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE).

The ISA programme facilitates cross-border and cross-sector interaction between European public administrations, enabling the delivery of electronic public services and ensuring the availability of common solutions. It is one of the instruments used to carry out the DAE and its priorities are based on the recently adopted European Interoperability Strategy and the European Interoperability Framework.

The ISA Programme was preceded by the IDABC Programme, in which Croatia successfully participated from 2007 onwards. The key challenge for ISA with regard to Croatia and indeed all candidate countries is to support the implementation of the ‘acquis communautaire’ in the candidate countries, to integrate them in the internal market and to provide pan-European e-government services to citizens and enterprises across borders.

The ISA programme is managed by the Commission in close cooperation with the EU Member States, EEA and candidate countries, represented on the programme's management committee.


The Commission’s work in the area of electronic cooperation and communication between Member States began with the simple electronic exchange of information between European public administrations under the IDA programme. Continuing these activities, the IDABC programme then shifted the approach towards a stronger consideration of end-user needs and a stronger focus on developing common solutions for all public administrations.

The participation of the Republic of Croatia in all Union programmes was established in the Framework Agreement of 22 November 2004.

Source : European Commission Press Release 1/2/2011.

Neo-nazi singer payed by HDZ

Croatian musician Marko Perković aka Thompson was one of the recipients of the HDZ party "black funds".

According to reports, Perković was given EUR 500,000 and asked to, in return, refuse to perform in favor of any party during the 2007 election campaign in Croatia.

Two independent sources confirmed this, according to the website.

Perković has been condemned for his affiliation with fascist and Ustasha ideologies, and for the fact that his fans attend concerts wearing Ustasha uniforms and insignia.

While he has officially spoken to distance himself from these incident, Perković also uses "controversial" symbols during his concerts, said reports.

The Ustasha regime was at the helm of the puppet Nazi WW2 Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which organized mass slaughter of Serbs, Jews and Roma in several death camps, including Jasenovac.

Not this again...

Slovenia has sent a protest note to Croatia protesting what it sees as prejudging of the sea border between the two countries.

The Croatian national television reported that, according to Croatia's rulebook, the border is established along the middle of the Bay of Piran, adding, however, that this will only be so until the completion of the demarcation between the two countries.

Official Ljubljana assessed that this was Croatia's unilateral move, but believes that this will not affect the achieved arbitrage agreement.

Due to the position of official Ljubljana, Slovenian Maritime Law expert Marko Pavliha stood down from the arbitrage committee.

"The problem is in the border line. The arbitrage will determine where the border is in the Gulf of Piran and where exactly Slovenia will have access to the waters," said Pavliha, adding that prejudging of the border in Croatia's official documents was "wrongful".

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mirjana Sanader: Ivo will not return to Croatia because he wouldn’t have a fair trial

Austrian newspaper Kurier published an exclusive interview with Mirjana Sanader, in which she claims her husband, ex Croatian PM, Ivo Sanader is innocent. She also talked about the “atmosphere of fear” in the country and says “Ivo will not return to the country”, because he would probably not stand a fair trial there.

Mirjana Sanader claims her daughter and she are practically in house arrest and are being spied upon and under surveillance although they are not indicted. “There is an atmosphere of fear in the country, not only in our house, but in entire country,” she said. She also denies her husband was on the run when he was arrested, claiming he was on a business trip.

Footage reveals Croatian soldiers in Afghanistan in armed combat

Croatian soldiers in Afghanistan have taken part in armed combat and not only as army trainers, footage published on Croatian daily 24 Sata shows.

The footage shows Croatian soldiers fighting Taliban insurgents in some parts of Afghanistan. A vehicle with Croatian flags can be seen in the midst of a fight and one can hear voices of men speaking in Croatian.

A different feature shows a member of the Croatian Army who returned from Afghanistan confirming the authenticity of the shots. "It is not that harmless over there…I would like the people to know where they are going and what to expect," the soldier - whose identity was not revealed - said.

In the north and near Kabul where the majority of Croatian soldiers are, the situation is getting worse, says another soldier also under the protection of anonymity.

"The stay in Afghanistan is quite dangerous - especially the guys in mentoring teams who follow the Afghani military find themselves in dangerous situations, that could be deadly," the soldier said adding that he is not sure why this information is kept from the Croatian public.

Such dangerous situations are not the norm, but soldiers can easily find themselves facing one, he adds. If Croatian soldiers train some units of the Afghani military, they are not only with them in the base but they also follow them outside into the field, the daily Jutarnji List writes.