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Plenković Files Two Suits Against Conflict of Interest Commission
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 14:05

Plenković Files Two Suits Against Conflict of Interest Commission

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - Conflict of Interest Commission chair Nataša Novaković said on Friday the Commission was surprised by the speed and coordination of the judges working on the Pokaz and Helsinki cases over which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković filed two suits against the Commission.

Novakovic told reporters every official had the right to take legal action against a decision by the Commission. She was commenting on the two suits Plenković filed at the Administrative Court against decisions in which the Conflict of Interest Commission found that he violated the principle of conscientious and transparent conduct.

Novakovic said she did not consider the suits as pressure on the Commission but as an option for every plaintiff who was dissatisfied with a decision by the Commission. She recommended doing so in court and not by publicly attacking the Commission

Novakovic said she would insist that a hearing be held. The prime minister, according to the media, asked that a judgment be handed down in writing.

She said a hearing was scheduled for Thursday and the Commission received a summons three days ago, so it requested that the hearing be postponed. The same day the Administrative Court informed the Commission there would be no hearing as the plaintiff had opted against it, she said, adding that she hoped a hearing would be held before a judgment was delivered because the Commission had the same rights as the plaintiff.

The Friday issue of Jutarnji List daily says the purpose of one of the lawsuits is to contest the Commission's decision concerning the appointment of Plenković's close friend Igor Pokaz as ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The other lawsuit is aimed at contesting the Commission's decision in a case related to a trip of a senior government delegation to Helsinki, where they attended the annual assembly of the European People's Party.

More news about conflict of interest issues can be found in the Politics section.


Croatian, Hungarian Ministers Discuss Fight Against Illegal Migration
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 14:02

Croatian, Hungarian Ministers Discuss Fight Against Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman met with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Budapest on Friday and they agreed on the need to fight for a new common asylum policy and against illegal migration.

"It's necessary to fight for a new common asylum policy and against illegal migration and smuggling," Grlić Radman said. "It's necessary to distinguish between refugees, where we are bound by the Geneva Convention, and illegal migration, on which some smuggling rings are making a lot of money."

Budapest and Zagreb share the same views also on EU enlargement and the EU's ambitious Multiannual Financial Framework, Grlić Radman said.

He reiterated that Zagreb and Budapest had "centuries of uninterrupted ties" and excellent relations, that the two peoples were "well-connected" and that, in the European context, the two countries were an example of a good solution concerning minority communities.

The two ministers also talked about Croatia's current presidency of the European Union. Grlić Radman recalled that in 2011, when Hungary chaired the EU, it helped Croatia a lot. "Thanks to Hungary, we completed the negotiations and became an EU member within two years."

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.


Economic Growth Slows Down to 2.5% in Q4 2019
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 14:00

Economic Growth Slows Down to 2.5% in Q4 2019

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - Croatia's economy grew by 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to Q4 2018, which is a lower rate than in Q3, when economic growth was at 2.9%.

The national statistical office (DZS) on Friday published its preliminary estimate, which shows that GDP saw an annual increase of 2.5% in Q4 2019, the 22nd consecutive quarter to see an increase in GDP albeit lower than in the previous quarter.

In 2019 GDP grew by 2.9%, which is more than the year before, when the growth rate was 2.65%.

The faster GDP growth in 2019 was mostly owing to a strong, 4.1% increase in the first quarter, while in the second quarter GDP grew 2.4% and in the third it rose 2.9% on the year.

The biggest positive contribution to GDP growth in Q4 2019 came from an increase in the export of goods and services and household consumption, the DZS says.

On the other hand, the contribution of net external demand was negative.

Household consumption in Q4 grew by 4% compared to the same period of the year before, which is a faster growth than in Q3, when household consumption grew by 3.1%.

The export of goods and services grew in Q4 by 5.6% on the year, which is higher than the 5.1% growth recorded in the previous quarter.

The export of goods grew by 2.1% and the export of services jumped by 12.1%.

The import of goods and services rose by 0.1% on the year, much less than in the previous quarter, when it rose by 4.3%.

The import of goods rose by 0.8% while the import of services dropped by 3.1%.

In Q4, investments in fixed assets rose by 4% on the year, which is a decrease compared to a 5% increase in the previous quarter.

Government spending also grew in Q4, by 3.5% on the year, which is faster than in Q3, when government spending grew at a rate of 2.9%.

According to seasonally adjusted data, GDP in Q4 grew by 0.3% compared to the previous quarter while on the year it grew by 2.7%.

The GDP growth rate is higher than the EU average considering that Eurostat recently said that the EU economy in Q4 2019 grew by 1.2% on the year and by 0.1% on the quarter.

More economy news can be found in the Business section.


Two new restaurants in Croatia awarded a Michelin star
Izvor:  Croatia Week
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 11:57

ZAGREB, 28 February 2020 – Croatia now has 7 restaurants with a Michelin star after two more restaurants were awarded...

Croatia to Host 2025 Handball World Championships with Norway and Denmark!
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 11:46

Croatia to Host 2025 Handball World Championships with Norway and Denmark!

February 28, 2020 - The International Handball Federation has announced that Croatia, Norway, and Denmark will host the 2025 Handball World Championships!

This exciting news was confirmed on Friday by the International Handball Federation (IHF), which has allocated hosts for all major championships over the next five years.

Gol.hr reports that for the fourth time in history, Croatia will host one major handball competition. Namely, they will host the four groups of the first round, two groups of the second round, two quarterfinals and one semifinal. Everything else will be played in northern Europe with the Norwegian capital Oslo as the venue for the third-place game and final.

The need for so many cities (Copenhagen and Herning in Denmark, Trondheim, Stavanger, Drammen and Oslo in Norway) is because this will be the third World Championship in a row with 32 national teams.

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This is the first time since 2009 that the World Championships will be played in Croatia. At that time, Lino Cervar's squad lost in the final to France, but the championship was marked by a great atmosphere in Croatian arenas.

Croatia has already organized Euro 2000 and 2018 as far as major competitions are concerned, but the Croatia handball team was not able to win a medal (fifth and sixth place).

In addition to the Senior World Cup, this year, Croatia will host the Women's Under-19 Handball World Championships and the 2023 Handball World Championships for the same year. 

The Croatia men's team played a fantastic European Championship earlier this year, where they finished second.

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The next challenge for the Croatia handball team is the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, to be held in France from April 17 to 19 this year in the famous Bercy Hall. In order for Croatia to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they will open against France, at 9 pm on April 17.  A day later, they will play against Portugal from 6:30 pm and then, on April 19, against Tunisia at 6:30 pm.

The games against France and Portugal are marked as crucial, in which the ‘Cowboys’ must record at least one victory.

The top two teams in each group will go to Tokyo.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


Croatia awarded co-hosting rights for World Handball Championship 
Izvor:  Croatia Week
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 11:37

ZAGREB, 28 February 2020 – Croatia will co-host the 2025 IHF World Men’s Handball Championship after a unanimous decision at...

Michelin Stars for Croatian Islands: Congratulations Lesic Dimitri (Korcula), Boskinac (Pag)!
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 11:29

The Lesic Dimitri team, worthy winners of a Michelin Star

February 28, 2020 - Two more Michelin Stars for Croatia - the first on Croatian islands. Congratulations to Lesic Dimitri Palace on Korcula and Boskinac on Pag!

Great news for the gourmet scene on Croatia's gorgeous islands, as for the first time, the Michelin Star has been awarded to a restaurant on a Croatian island. And not one, but two.

LD Terrace, the exquisite restaurant of leading boutique 5-star restaurant on Korcula, Lesic Dimitri Palace, and Boskinac on the island of Pag, are the two new additions to the illustrious list of restaurants with Michelin stars, bringing to seven the number of such restaurants in Croatia. 

The first five restaurants to receive their Michelin stars all retained them in 2020. They are - Draga di Lovrana in Lovran, Monte in Rovinj, Pelegrini in Sibenik, Noel in Zagreb, and 360 in Dubrovnik.

Congratulations to both LD Terrace and Boskinac, both of which have pushed the boundaries of culinary excellence on their respective islands. I am particularly pleased for the Lesic Dimitri team, whom I know well due to my close friendship with owner Michael Unsworth. It is the perfect start to the year for them after the tragic loss of key team member Drazen Matkovic in a car accident recently. I asked Michael to say a few words:

"We are delighted that our team led by Chef Marko Gajski has received this recognition for the outstanding effort they have put into achieving this. We are sad that our colleague Drazen Matkovic is not here to enjoy it with us."

Learn more about both restaurants and their luxury boutique hotels from their official websites. 

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LD Palace

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Boskinac


Kaja Pavlinic, a Croatian Youth Activist Fighting Corruption
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 10:34

Kaja Pavlinic, a Croatian Youth Activist Fighting Corruption

February 27, 2020 - There are plenty of younger activists fighting for positive change in Croatia. Meet Kaja Pavlinic, whose main target is corruption. 

Sadly, we are witnesses of everyday corruption in our lovely Croatia. Maybe we aren't even aware of where this disease spreads its roots. Politics, absolutely. Health care, check. Schools, unfortunately. And what are we doing when it comes to this? We all know about it, but we have to admit ourselves that we aren't doing anything specific. But that isn't the case with Kaja Pavlinić. She is a student of Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (University of Zagreb), European Youth Ambassador, manager of successful projects, climate change awareness-raiser, Vice President of the Youth Council of Varaždin and of course, she works as a student. 

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If that blows you away, get prepared for more. 

Kaja started her journey when she enrolled in IBDP (The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme) in high school. As she says, this program helped her in a way that she could focus on many things outside the school, especially volunteering, because Kaja had 6-7 courses she chose herself. Additionally, as the IBDP is a program in English, it helped her with getting more confident about the language. A big plus were her professors who encouraged students to get involved in projects, not only in Croatia but on an international level as well. Then Kaja found out about a scholarship from the American embassy (Benjamin Franklin), which was available to only two students in that time of Croatia. After a few selection rounds, Kaja became one of them. She left for Indiana to Purdue University and spent some quality time there learning about active citizenship, fostering youth participation, debating, as well as the education and political systems in Europe and the USA. 

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At this precise moment, a willingness to change Croatia was born. In the year 2016, she started an anti-corruption project called Integritas. Kaja held a lot of presentations in schools, raising awareness about academic honesty. Surprisingly, the reactions from students and teachers were pleasant. Students understood how bad it is to cheat, not only because it's unfair, but also because they are aware of how useless that is for later in life. Through many campaigns, she was eager to know how much academic dishonesty was represented, why students cheat on exams, and why that is even rooted in our mindset. "I was never a snitch. Instead, I'm trying to get people to accept that cheating is not even an option."

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The problem lies in the whole education system, mostly in high schools. You have to have the highest grades because you have to enroll in college. And when you have seven lectures each day for which you have to be ready, it is hard to stay in an academic honesty zone. The same things happen when kids enroll in college that is an unfulfilled wish for their parents. "Of course, it isn't always the students' fault. Many professors could do better, and so do the whole education system. I think that professors should encourage students to develop internal qualities while leaving out irrelevant information."

Kaja Pavlinić from TV Student FPZG on Vimeo.

As time went by, Kaja strived for more. From the Integritas initiative, a big project was born. This February, she represented a project called Youth Voice for Integrity. This project gathered 17 young people wanting to know more about corruption, how to recognize it, and how to repress it. Their task was to design their ideas and strategies, which may be one day implemented. During four days of the project, young people were able to listen to Dražen Hoffman (GONG), Marko Matijević (Srednja.hr), Nina Begi�ević Ređep (a dean of FOI). Evaluators of the whole project were satisfied, and so was Kaja. "I think that all of the knowledge I gathered through the years somehow culminated in this project."

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Apart from the anti-corruption element, Kaja has various other interests. Her energy startup Tinja has been named the best Croatian energy startup in energy: it is a platform that promotes renewable energy sources and connects those who offer solar panel installation services to those who need them. For this, she won the Best Idea Award at the 2016 Open Data Youth Academy in Pula, presented Tinja at the 2016 Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris, and won the title at the 2017 Startup Europe Awards Croatia in Rijeka.

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Kaja was also invited as a representative of Croatia at a Helsinki Climate conference. As Finland was chairing the European Council, it was the main goal to speak about climate change. Many experts gathered for the conference, as well as many young people. Everyone got a chance to speak about this topic and give their opinion. But, Croatia did fail one more time: Kaja had to prepare a presentation about priorities and had had a meeting with the Finnish Minister for the Environment. One would think that the Croatian ministry would help young representatives of their country and give her input on how things should get done. But, nothing from them.

One thing that surprised Kaja at the conference was that there were 15-year-old children who have been fighting against climate changes for a couple of years! Indeed, where were we in those years of our lives?  

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Kaja is also a president of Forum za održivi razvoj Zeleni prozor (Sustainable Development Forum Green Window). She is a member for three years now, and this story started when Kaja first got involved in European Green Activist Training (EGAT). This training gathers young people who are willing to know more about sustainable development, institutions of the EU, environment, etc. Through national training and travel to Brussels, they are learning about the various bodies of the EU and their function because Green European Foundation funds the whole project. 

Kaja was honest about what she thinks about corruption: "It is my biggest frustration. When someone is corrupt, he steals the chance for someone else who is maybe more than brilliant. This whole thing is very backward for society, and if we continue to do this, we can only dream about becoming like other states which we admire so much."

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Everyone with a busy life says that organization is the key. But Kaja points out that it is normal to be lazy sometimes, it is okay if you want to watch Netflix or just lay down in your bed and do nothing. She found her outlet in finding a balance between private life and work. Her time with family and close friends is the most precious thing for her. "Of course, I love to do projects or improve them, but you need to set a limit to yourself. You can't give yourself to other people or projects. You have to make time for yourself. Everyone puts much pressure on youth these days. We have to be successful, we have to be recognized, we have to... No! We don't have to do everything. It is okay to fail, it is okay to take a pause. I feel like society doesn't talk about it, but it definitely should. If the pressure becomes impossible to handle, we won't get much from our life."

Croatia has a great example of a young lady who continues to show how we should all act. Just imagine if more people start doing only 20% of the whole anti-corruption story. Now, will it stay on imagination, or is it finally time for Croatians to wake up?


New Varteks Fashion Line - Another Reason to Look Forward to Spring
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 10:15

New Varteks Fashion Line - Another Reason to Look Forward to Spring

February 28, 2020 - Perfectly studied designs, the highest quality of fabrics and the elegance without compromise are the synonyms for Varteks fashion.

All of those should get the chance to shine at a fashion show within the Bipa Fashion.hr fashion week, which will take place on March 18th. The Varteks fashion line for the upcoming season clearly states "this is the quality and the style without compromise". Both the male and the female lines show the creative designers' vision at first glance, as well as the dedication to the masterful work, perfect fabrics and impeccable lines.

Under the leadership of the creative director Martina Vrdoljak Ranilović, Varteks will present at the runway the collection dominated by the perfect elegance even in the relaxed, more casual pieces. Vrdoljak Ranilović stated that Varteks continues to strongly build their fashion statements, and that their ambitions and potentials are large. They continue to insist on quality without compromise, but slowly they're adding some spices into their fashion statements. She added that they're looking forward to the presentation of their spring line during Bipa Fashion.hr week, as it gives them the chance to showcase the bolder fashion statements than are expected from such a large fashion house.

The male line is dominated by the infallible business suits, however, a portion of it is dedicated to the casual styles, adjusting to the needs of a modern working man. Formal suits of the spring line are made from the highest quality wool. The combination of wool, cotton and linen in the relaxed models symbolises the spring awakening, the easiness of style and design without competition. The vibrating colours, the playful patterns mostly based on the checkered pattern announce the spring in the best possible way. In addition to the recognisable suits, the line includes wind jackets, pants, Bermuda shorts, polo shirts as well as t-shirts. The jacket is the ultimate piece of the collection, and both men's and women's lines are built around it, and it's this turn in the style which will win over the hearts of those who are loyal to the fashion classics.

The Varteks woman is free, unburdened and she creates her own style rules. The female line for spring/summer 2020 is filled with fresh, spring colours, such as variants of green, safari colours from the colour of sand, through cinnamon and soil, and to contrast that the dominating black, white and red are present. The modern twist to the line is provided by the combination of natural materials: silk, cotton, wool and linen.

The statement of the "power dressing" in the new line is the jacket, coming in various versions: from the models who remind us of an oversized shirt, to the models resembling an overcoat more than a blazer, all the way to the classic models of blazers and light overcoats. The strong masculine feel is emphasized by the oversized design. Of course, the line includes dresses in different styles, and in this season you can't miss the denim line, enriched by the softer and more feminine details, such as frills, which are ideal in smart casual combinations.

As they try to maintain the traditional language of classic elegance, unimposing luxury and refined style, Varteks has enriched the various fashion forms in this line with more relaxed styles, fresh colours, prints and patterns, and thanks to that, they've created a line ideal for modern men and women who don't settle when it comes to quality.

The show by the Vareks fashion will be held on Wednesday, March 18th, on the first day of the 30th season of Bipa Fashion.hr. The program of this season of the fashion week will start on March 12th, with the opening of the photo exhibition From backstage to runway by Zvonimir Ferina. The key people of the Croatian fashion scene will talk about the current fashion events on the FHR talks platform on Saturday, March 14th, while the shows by the largest designer names in Croatia will be held on three separate runways in Pavillion 5 of the Zagreb Fair (Zagreba�ki velesajam) from March 18th until 21st. The official program this season will include Ana Maria Ricov, Klisab, Varteks, Spirit by T.B., Branka Donassy, BiteMyStyle by Zoran Aragović, Anthony Avangard, Marina Design, Ivica Skoko, Les Emaux, Arileo and Robert Sever.

Original text in Croatian from Fashion.hr here.


Milanović Meets with Slovenia President Pahor
Izvor:  Total Croatia News
Petak, 28 Veljača 2020 09:36

Milanović Meets with Slovenia President Pahor

ZAGREB, February 28, 2020 - International law is the basis for solving the Croatian-Slovenian border dispute, on which the European Commission and the European Court of Justice have taken positions, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday after talks with Slovenian President Borut Pahor.

The two heads of state held a working meeting in Oto�ec Ob Krki, Slovenia during Milanović's first foreign visit as Croatia's new president.

"What is the basis? In our opinion, international law," he said, adding that he was saying this "before talks have started."

He said the two countries were "nowhere" in terms of procedure and that it was necessary to see how to proceed. The basis will be "what we agree."

"It's necessary to sit at the table and talk, literally and figuratively, and see how to proceed," Milanović said, adding that border arbitration was not an issue that "disturbs the sleep and gives a hangover" to the two countries.

Pahor said the outstanding issues would not be solved overnight but that they should be approached in the spirit of "mutual respect, good neighbourliness and European values." He reiterated, however, Slovenia's position on the need to honour the arbitration award.

"Slovenia considers that the tribunal has delivered a judgment and that it must be honoured," he said, adding that resolving outstanding issues was of strategic importance for Slovenia, both in terms of security and the economy.

Pahor directly tied Croatia's prospective entry to the Schengen Area to the final settlement of the border dispute, i.e. the enforcement of the arbitral tribunal's 2017 award. "It's in Slovenia's interest that Schengen expand to Croatia... The element of security is very important for Slovenia. But if an agreement were reached on the arbitral tribunal, that would make it easier for Slovenia to adopt a decision on Croatia's Schengen accession."

Milanovic said Slovenia benefitted the most from Croatia's protection of its own border. "Croatia wishes to enter Schengen and it's obvious that Slovenia can benefit the most from that."

"If Croatia currently weren't present on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, it's a question what situation Slovenia would be in in protecting its own and Schengen's external border," he said.

Milanović said he understood that Slovenia could not ignore the arbitration issue in Piran Bay just like that "because it's been going on too long and it has an emotional element." He added, however, that there are border disputes in the EU that have lasted since 1815 and "one lives with that."

"Slovenia is in a position to say yes or no here. The European Commission has assessed that Croatia meets all the technical requirements (for Schengen) and Slovenia now has to see what suits it."

Milanović said Croatia was criticised in the European Parliament for being rough and too aggressive in protecting its border, adding that there was both truth and exaggeration in that. "But that's a tough job that we will and would, in case we enter the Schengen regime as soon as possible, have to do even more intensively."

Asked what he expected of Slovenia's new government if Janez Janša became prime minister, Milanović said Janša had been prime minister in two terms already. "I'm convinced there will be no negative surprises, but there will be a dialogue."

Both presidents supported the cooperation of Croatia and Slovenia in the Alpe-Adria and Brdo-Brijuni initiatives, and strongly supported EU enlargement to North Macedonia and Albania.

"We support enlargement to those two countries which have been kept on the side for a long time, and keeping them in uncertainty is counterproductive and dangerous," said Milanovic.

He is disappointed, he added, that they have been treated as "poor, less worthy brothers" although they have met many requirements.

"Let's be realistic. Some conditions they will never and can't fulfil, just as perhaps neither Croatia nor Slovenia ever would. Negotiations should be begun with those states as soon as possible and simultaneously."

Milanović said both Albania and North Macedonia had come far and that perhaps they were even blackmailed a little to change some things, such as their name. "What now? Send the message that it's not enough? That's not the way to build a common Europe and a common house."

He said Albania's problems and legacy "can't be erased overnight" and that it was a burden with which the EU must enter into an arrangement with Albania. It would be even worse to say that the EU does not count on Albania, he added.

"What kind of message is that to a state in which 60% of the population is nominally Islamic, keeping them waiting so long?" Milanović said, adding that he feared that might be interpreted as if that was too many non-Christians.

As for the Slovenian government's criticisms that the measures Croatia has taken to prevent coronavirus from harming the economy, he said he believed the Croatian government was doing what was necessary.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.


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