Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year From Croatia Online

A very Happy New Year to all Croatia Online readers. Here in Croatia it started with a bang! Five years ago we went out to party in Trogir, a biggish town by Croatian standards, and there was not a single bar or restaurant open, or a person to be found on the streets. This year there were parties everywhere in the town squares and even the local villages in Kaštela were alive with fireworks and celebrations.

On New Year’s Eve HTV, the main television company, published the results of a survey they conducted to find out what the most memorable events were in Croatia in 2006 and came up with the following:

Some 28% of Croatian citizens chose the repayment of debts to OAPs as the most memorable event in 2006 – not surprising since every fourth Croatian is an OAP. 80% of OAPs have opted for the swift repayment option during two years, while 20% have chosen the slower repayment which is spread over 4 years. The state has earmarked approximately seven billion kuna ( 10.5 kuna ≈ £1) for pension repayments.

Radman's Scientific Breakthrough - 28.1 %
Academic Miroslav Radman and his team's breakthrough in reviving dead bacteria cells may change the future of the world. This has been chosen as the best event in 2006 by 28.1 percent of the surveyed.

Soccer Win over England - 11%
Understandably, for a nation of football lovers, the national soccer teams two-nil victory over England was also significant.

Negotiations with the EU - 6.6%
Slowly, but surely, Croatia is on the path to EU membership. Two chapters have been completed in the accession process – culture and science and education. The government hopes to complete another six to eight chapters this year. However the Croatian population remains sceptical about EU entry and the majority is against it.

Tesla's Year - 6.3%
150 years after his birth, scientist Nikola Tesla features in the survey. After many years of being overlooked, 2006 was named “Tesla’s Year”. Both Croatian and Serb politicians have now recognized the importance of his inventions and celebrated his significant contribution to science, in particular the invention of alternating current. It’s ironic therefore that some 200 “returnee” villages in Croatia are still without his main invention - electricity.

Murders and Robberies - 26.3%
Robberies at FINA branches (state accountants/auditors) and betting shops, murders of security guards and residents have plagued 2006. Every day a till, cash point or a petrol station is robbed. Some 10 million kuna has been stolen during 2006 and citizens are feeling less and less secure. [ed – this is paraphrasing a Croatian report; visitors to Croatia should be reassured that although crime is on the up, Croatia is still a much safer place, in general, than eg the UK]
Glavas Trial - 12.8%
The break up of the legal system was how the case against Branimir Glavas could best be described. Through a 37-day hunger strike Glavas dictated political events. Witnesses retracted their testimonies and were moved from town to town, judges appeared to be swayed by politics and the politicians seemed to change their policies day by day.

Detention of Branimir Glavas - 9.9%
Branimir Glavas was the first MP to have legal proceedings filed against him for alleged war crimes and also the first to lose his immunity and be detained. In the space of two years he became a prisoner and the greatest opposition to the current government. The long-time friendship between parliamentary speaker Vladimir Seks and Glavas was also ruptured by these events.

Diplomatic Drug Scandal - 8.4%
It all started with a $17 joint in Los Angeles and mushroomed into a story of three tonnes of cocaine from Bihac. Croatian diplomats are accusing each other of drug dealing and cover ups at different Croatian embassies. This is a story that broke only recently but started in 2004.
Secret Bank Accounts - 5.5%
Dragica, Lex and Kata are just some of the names of secret bank accounts meant for the defence of Croatia. Fifteen years after the war the issue has come up again - who knew about the accounts and who benefited from them when hundreds of millions of German marks ended up in the pockets of individuals. Some have made a fortune from the war and others lost their lives but the issue of the secret accounts falls under the statute of limitations [time barred] and is unlikely to come under court proceedings.”
We take it as a very hopeful sign that matters such as the above are now being fully aired and hope 2007 will be the year in which the state, and the related bureaucracy, will cease to provide quite so many obstacles to home grown and foreign entrepreneurs alike. Croatia has great natural beauty and many other intrinsic advantages – let’s hope it continues to become an easier place to work and live in, for young and old, through 2007 and beyond.

Sretna Nova Godina!


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