November 2020 | ISSUE No. 27 | ONLINE EDITION
PRESERVATION OF JOBS IS OUR PRIMARY FOCUS JOSIP ALADROVIĆ
Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy
OUR TWO NATIONS REMAIN AMONG THE STRONGEST ALLIES IN THE WORLD
30 YEARS OF SDP
EXTREMELY COMPLEX PROCESS OF INTRODUCING THE EURO
President of SDP
Governor of Croatian National Bank
H.E. ROBERT KOHORST
13 Gone, Not Forgotten... FOLLOW US TO STAY UPDATED
Magazine Director Croatia boban@diplomacy andcommerce.hr
ILIJA PETROVIĆ INDIGOCHILD
Art director email@example.com
Director Photos GETTY IMAGES TOMISLAV SMOLJANOVIĆ
Translation GORANKA MILOŠEVIĆ
ROBERT ČOBAN Director
n Saturday, September 10, 1898, at 1.35 pm, Empress Elisabeth of Austria left the Beau-Rivage Hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva and, accompanied by her lady-in-waiting Countess Irma Sztáray de Sztára et Nagymihály, went to the dock to wait for the ship ‘Geneva’ which was supposed to take them to Montreux. Luigi Lucheni, a 25-year-old Italian anarchist, approached her and stabbed her with a sharpened file. The Empress passed away an hour later. This was an epoch of regicides taking place all across Europe during which many kings, princes and heirs to the throne were assassinated.
122 years later, on the streets of Vienna, a mad Islamic fundamentalist kills random passers-by. That night, Vienna, which, for years, has been topping the list of cities with the best life on the planet, was the scene of a bloody feast the likes of which we saw two decades ago on the streets of Paris, London, Madrid, Marseille, Munich, Brussels and many European cities. On November 15, Netflix began airing the 4th season of "The Crown". In the first episode, we watch the assassination of Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India and a symbol of "the British imperialism", by IRA terrorists. Shortly after the assassination, the graffiti saying "13 gone, not forgotten, we got 18 and Mountbatten!" was painted on a building in Belfast in Northern Ireland which alluded to the murder of Mountbatten and 18 British soldiers in revenge for the Bloody Sunday which happened in the town of Londonderry in Ireland in 1971 (sang by U2 in their eponymous song) when the British police killed 13 Irish protesters.
For more than a century, Europeans have been victims of someone's "revenge" for "injustices" inflicted on their compatriots, like-minded people or ancestors, as if Covid-19 was not enough for Europe, as it continues to randomly kill young and old, rich and poor, weak and strong. In the 1970s and 1980s, Europeans were killed by terrorists from the IRA, ETA, Brigate Rosse and Baader Meinhof, while in the last two decades, it was mostly Islamic terrorists. In 2020, it was both the Islamic terrorists and Covid-19. Once the pandemic subsides, Europe has to find a common answer to many questions and one of the most important is restoring a sense of security on the streets of European cities so we can sit in peace with our family in a, say, Viennese cafe, order a melange and only be concerned with what gallery to visit next and where to go for lunch. We need to go back to the feeling that makes us happy to be Europeans and makes millions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America want to be happy too.
Predstavnik za RH
PRESERVATION OF JOBS IS OUR PRIMARY FOCUS JOSIP ALADROVIĆ Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy
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EXTREMELY COMPLEX PROCESS OF INTRODUCING THE EURO BORIS VUJČIĆ Governor of Croatian National Bank
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OUR TWO NATIONS REMAIN AMONG THE STRONGEST ALLIES IN THE WORLD H.E. ROBERT KOHORST US Ambassador
30 YEARS OF SDP PEĐA GRBIN
THE FIRST ONLINE EDITION OF ZAGREB FILM FESTIVAL
President of SDP
BORIS T. MATIĆ
WORKERS’ RIGHTS AND PROTECTION ARE A PRIMARY CONCERN MLADEN NOVOSEL President of the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia
ADAPTATION TO ONLINE CLASSES MILENA PRODANIĆ TIŠMA Founder of the IBSZ Bright Horizons
Director of Zagreb Film Festival
THREE YEARS OF DIPLOMACY & COMMERCE IN CROATIA Anniversary
MANY COUNTRIES NEED DEBT RELIEF Economy
PRODUCTIVE DISAGREEMENT: WHEN WE CAN ONLY AGREE THAT WE DON'T AGREE JAGODA POROPAT DARRER Business Communication Professional
A NEW FOREIGN-POLICY TEAM
Joe Biden Will Embrace Allies— and Enlist Them to Take on China The president-elect opts for dependability, loyalty and like-mindedness in his national-security picks s soon as Joe Biden takes over as president in January there will be a new tone in America’s foreign policy, and this week he is revealing the new team that will help set it. Its top trio, to be formally announced on November 24th, say a lot about the contrast he wishes to establish with the tumultuous President Donald Trump. His picks are predictable, solid and wedded to a belief in the rules-based international order. His nominee for secretary of state is expected to be Antony Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The 58-year-old is a long-marcher with Mr Biden, having worked for him from 2002 at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then (when Mr Biden was vice-president) as his national security adviser, and most recently as his top foreign-policy adviser during his campaign for the White House. In the Trump years he set up an advisory firm with Michèle Flournoy, another senior official from the Obama administration, who is tipped to become defence secretary. For his national security adviser Mr Biden is said to have opted for another member of his inner circle, Jake Sullivan. Although, at 43, he will be the youngest person in that role since McGeorge Bundy in the 1960s, he too has a wealth of experience, having also served as Mr Biden’s national security adviser and as Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff when she was secretary of state. He is also strikingly clever. Mr Biden’s nominee for UN ambassador, meanwhile, is expected to be Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American career diplomat who was head of the foreign service and, during Mr Obama’s second term, the top official for Africa. In recent years she joined the consultancy of Madeleine Albright, a former secretary of state, and has taken a particu-
MR BLINKEN SEES ALLIES AS VITAL IN THE COMPETITION WITH CHINA, PERHAPS THE BIGGEST FOREIGN-POLICY CHALLENGE OF THE COMING YEARS lar interest in reforms needed to modernise the State Department. What to expect from the new team? No fireworks, for sure. Mr Biden has gone for steadiness and dependability, not high-profile public figures. Mr Blinken is not entirely conventional: he plays with a band, he went to high-school in France, his step-father was a Holocaust survivor and he has a young family. But he is viewed as a centrist who goes down well with people on both right and left. Matt Duss, Bernie Sanders’s foreign-policy adviser, called Mr Blinken a “good choice” for secretary of state, tweeting that it will be “a new and great thing to have a top diplomat who
has regularly engaged with progressive grassroots.” America’s allies can expect completely different treatment than the badgering and battering they have been subjected to by Mr Trump. “Allies are going to have pride of place in the hierarchy of priorities” in a Biden administration foreign policy, Mr Sullivan said in a podcast with the Lowy Institute, an Australian thinktank, in September. Mr Blinken sees allies as vital in the competition with China, perhaps the biggest foreign-policy challenge of the coming years. He expects to work with “like-minded countries” to ensure that the rules of the game are fair—and allies help
give America extra clout: it’s a lot harder for China “to ignore 60% of the world’s GDP than it is to ignore a quarter of it,” he said this spring at Meridian, a Washington-based centre for diplomacy. Mr Blinken also thinks it has been a big mistake for America to pull back from its leadership role in international institutions in the way that Mr Trump has done: “that simply creates a vacuum,” he says. At the UN Ms Thomas-Greenfield’s job will be to show the world that America is back. That will come naturally to her. The sorts of issues on which she believes America should lead, but has stopped doing so—refugees and humanitarian issues, for example, as well as climate change—are those at the heart of the UN’s work. On climate, in particular, the new administration intends to be back with a bang. On January 20th, its first day in office, Mr Biden intends to rejoin the Paris agreement. He is to appoint John Kerry, a former secretary of state with a passion for sustainability, as his climate tsar. The first days in office promise to be particularly busy on arms control, too, with the New START nuclear deal with Russia due to expire on February 5th unless the two countries’ presidents agree to extend it. Mr Biden would like to do so—and needs his foreign-policy team to be up and running right away. The Biden team will no doubt be at pains to repair a lot of the damage Mr Trump has done. Yet Mr Sullivan recognises that, in shaking up American foreign policy, Mr Trump has also “created more space” for a long-overdue reckoning on some issues, including reframing the country’s relationship with China. The Biden administration’s challenge will be to make best use of that space. From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com
Preservation of Jobs is Our Primary Focus Primary source of financing by the end of this year are EU funds
JOSIP ALADROVIĆ Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy
he Government is currently working on a scenario for the next budget year and accordingly we are preparing redesigned support measures that should take effect early next year, Josip Aladrović, Minister of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy, told Diplomacy & Commerce. He adds that the Government of the Republic of Croatia will not leave employers and their workers to struggle with the consequences of the pandemic on their own, but will do everything in their power to protect them. The Government is placing special focus on the young people.
The crisis caused by the COVID 19 pandemic is in its full capacity and seems to be at its peak. This has been going on for months, which has somewhat emptied the state treasury. How many opportunities and capacities does the Government of the Republic of Croatia have to continue to support those who need
the existing financial perspective in order to get the most out of them and, as much as possible, preserve the Croatian economy, which was on an upward trajectory before the crisis. In the future period, we can count on HRK 7.5 billion from the SURE program, as well as funds from the EU React program, the Recovery Fund
ber rose to almost 600,000 workers and 100,000 employers. It is the largest for the economy with public funds in the history of the state. Everyone who needed help eventually got it, and this will continue in the future. By continuing to apply measures to preserve jobs and the measure of support for the reduction of working
BY CONTINUING TO APPLY MEASURES TO PRESERVE JOBS AND THE MEASURE OF SUPPORT FOR THE REDUCTION OF WORKING HOURS, WE WANT TO PROTECT WORKERS AND THE LABOUR MARKET it, and how much will we have to look for some new models of action in that direction? — Measures to preserve jobs and the workers are our primary focus in the coming period, and EU funds will be the primary source of funding until the end of this year. We redirected funds from
and the next financial perspective. We are counting on these funds to start arriving at the end of the year. Let me remind you that right at the beginning of the crisis, in just two weeks in March, we paid out aid to more than half a million workers, while in April that num-
hours, we want to protect workers and the labour market, and provide support to entrepreneurs who suffer from the crisis to plan their business operations easier. The measures are concrete and, as far as possible, provide some form of security, stability and predictability.
The Government announced new redesigned support measures. What do they mean and for whom are they intended? There are several spheres of industry and catering and branches of the economy that should be covered by this? — Globally, the economy is trying to return to "normal" in a way, but some sectors will face consequences for many years to come the travel sector, catering, sporting events and the entertainment industry. The Government is currently working on a scenario for the next budget year and we are preparing redesigned support measures accordingly, which should take effect early next year. What I can promise is that we will not leave employers and their workers to fight the consequences of the pandemic on their own, but we will do everything in our power to protect them. We are especially focusing on young people, who have yet to enter the labour market and who need to be provided with a future and perspective, because investments in human and intellectual capital of the society will be key to creating a better and fairer economy. In
this context, we certainly plan to continue to maintain fiscal relief for young people employed for an indefinite period. It is a successful measure that has already been used by 140,000 young people, and with which we help them ensure job security so that they can plan their careers in the long run and achieve their life goals. We will also continue with the internship measure, which will incite permanent employment of inexperienced young people. Since the implementation of these two measures has started, youth unemployment has halved in just a few years, from 24.6 percent in 2016 to 13.2 percent in 2019, which is why we are continuing in that direction.
How much will they change and by when can those to whom the measures are addressed expect them? The crisis may last. — A certain dose of uncertainty is still present and the crisis will not go away overnight. We in the Government are aware that things will never be the same as before the Corona - the sooner people accept it, the sooner they will be able to adapt to new circumstanc-
es. I want to emphasize that it is not just about the measures that need to be created for people, but it is up to the people themselves to make certain changes, primarily in their mindset. Here I am primarily referring to flexibility, and I do not mean regulatory flexibility, which is a separate topic, but our personal readiness to go beyond our established frameworks and expectations when looking for a job in a situation where every job is important. It is a common practice throughout Europe for people to travel daily to work, which is often in another city, which is a rare occurrence in our country. A person living in Pula should be ready to move to Zagreb or Split for a good business opportunity, or to travel from Varaždin to Zagreb every day for work. The measures that we will present at the end of the year are primarily aimed at the sectors most affected by the crisis. I will repeat, our focus is on young people who are facing a very gloomy employment perspective in the next few years due to the economic recovery and who are looking for their first job, but also workers whose jobs will be digitized and who will
GLOBALLY, THE ECONOMY IS TRYING TO RETURN TO "NORMAL" IN A WAY, BUT SOME SECTORS WILL FACE CONSEQUENCES FOR MANY YEARS TO COME - THE TRAVEL SECTOR, CATERING, SPORTING EVENTS AND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
need to be retrained. Also, with the new measures we introduce, we will try to facilitate access to the labour market for all creative people who we want to encourage to create added value independently and who we want to stimulate to introduce much-needed changes in our economy.
Another topic of interested parties in the previous period were the amendments to the Labour Law. Your position and the Government's position is that the number of fixed-term contracts should be reduced, but also that the termination of contracts for an indefinite period should be made more flexible. How far have you come in negotiations with the interested parties and when can the adoption of the mentioned changes be expected? — Negotiations are in progress, and we expect specific proposals for changes soon. Regardless of the pandemic, the fact remains that six full years have passed since the reaching of the applying Law, and in that period, circumstances on the labour market have changed drastically. Our goal is to use the new law to set a real and quality framework to incite entrepreneurial activities and reduce administrative burden on labour, with maximum protection of workers’ and entrepreneurs’ rights. As part of this, we want to increase the share of employees employed for an indefinite period, in order to provide workers with greater financial stability and the possibility of better planning of household budgets and financial obligations. Croatia is at the top in Europe in terms of the share of fixed-term contracts in relation to permanent contracts, which is a problem because this additionally contributes to instability of the economy. This is a consequence of certain shortcomings of indefinite employment contracts for employers who employ, especially in the part of defining the probationary period and dismissal, which is why some of them resort to fixed-term employment. This then puts workers in a position where they cannot exercise part of the rights enjoyed by workers with indefinite contracts, for example it is more difficult for them to get a bank loan. Therefore, the intention of the new Labour Law is to reduce the number of workers exposed to excessive conclusion of consecutive and short-term employment
contracts and increase the number of workers with indefinite employment contracts, which should be more flexible and which must serve as a guarantee of excellence of the worker on a job he performs for the employer. There we have misconceptions of some unions claiming that flexibilization will lead to a new wave of economic exodus to Ireland, Germany and other countries. This is not true, as evidenced by the example of Ireland, which has the most flexible labour legislation of all European countries, and where a large number of our workers are located. Contract flexibility is not a crucial factor in worker satisfaction, but there are a number of other factors such as wages, general wellness of society, the quality of the education system that influence the decision on economic migration.
Negotiations on minimum wage with the Trade Unions are in progress. Have the positions approached and what outcome can we expect? In that context, what will be the dynamics of wage increase next year? — One of the goals of the Ministry of Labour was to protect the level of wages in the entire economy during this crisis, and I think we have succeeded in that and we plan to continue to do so in the future. It is in this context that the Government has decided to increase the minimum wage in 2021 by HRK 150, or by 4.6 percent, and it will amount to HRK 3,400 net. The unions are aware of the general economic situation and understand that this is an increase that is realistic given the moment. The budget revision is also expected, after which the payment of Christmas bonuses has been announced. What amount are we talking about and who can expect these bonuses? — Christmas bonuses and the increase of base by four percent as of New Year will be paid as agreed, to 250,000 employees in state and public services. The topic that divided the public was the regulation of work on Sundays. What is the position of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in this regard? — We are negotiating with the social partners on all open issues concerning the labour market and we are pleased to have launched a quality dialogue, and work on
THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED TO INCREASE THE MINIMUM WAGE IN 2021 BY HRK 150, OR BY 4.6 PERCENT, AND IT WILL AMOUNT TO HRK 3,400 NET Sundays is one of the topics on which we have yet to reach a consensus. The Government's position is that it is necessary to find a quality balance between working and non-working Sundays, while respecting the rights of workers to their weekly rest but also the needs of certain sectors of the economy such as tourism and trade.
The year 2020 is specific for many things, but we hope that 2021 will be more “normal”. What are the plans and priorities of the Ministry in 2021? — With all the mentioned plans such as helping the economy through possible continuation of measures to preserve labour measures and active employment policy measures, given the political and economic context in which we find ourselves, despite the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of parts of our economy, we have preserved economic activity and a preserved labour market. Looking ahead, we see a better tomorrow, because every crisis brings certain opportunities. The first is certainly funding from the European Union under the Recovery Plan in the amount of nine billion euros, which opens up great oppor-
tunities for small, open and agile economies. The amount is primarily intended for the new European Green Agreement and development programs for the ICT sector, which is profiling itself as one of the most propulsive sectors in the country. At the operational level, it is crucial to direct European funds to sectors that create great added value and to a greater extent to the private sector. Almost at the same time, great opportunities are opening up for us in the new multi-annual financial framework, especially in the segments of education, employment, social inclusion and incentives for young people. Also, at the Government level, we intend to relax the regulatory framework in order for assets of pension funds to become more active on the market, in terms of a more long-term financial monitoring of sustainable projects aimed at development of the entire economy. This means that we are entering a new phase of cooperation between the state and pensioners, which should aim to empower small and medium enterprises, especially the already rather well-developed start-up scene, but also to enter joint stock companies, and why not also to finance transport infrastructure.
What are you most proud of what you have done so far at the head of the ministry, and which segment of activity is the most demanding for you? — Estimates warn that this is the biggest crisis in the past 100 years, because of which all those who have a task to create policies for a new and better society bear special responsibility on their backs. This is in itself demanding, especially when the scope of action includes the preservation of jobs, pensions and care for more than 26,000 users of the social system, who represent the most vulnerable groups in our society and who need special protection. I am proud of the very fact that such a large system is functioning in the time of COVID-19 epidemics, and I am particularly proud of every job we managed to preserve and the fact that we did avoid a shock at the labour market after all. Every crisis is also an opportunity, an opportunity for the non-agile to be more agile, for those out-dated to become up-to-date, for less flexible to become more flexible and for the slow to become faster. How Croatia will use this opportunity depends on all of us. The human, intellectual and technological capital we possess is promising, but we must raise its efficiency to the highest possible level in order to use all our potentials.
Extremely Complex Process of Introducing the Euro In order to have effective preparatory activities for the introduction of euro, six coordination committees will be established INTERVIEW
BORIS VUJČIĆ Governor of Croatian National Bank
overnor of Croatian National Bank Boris Vujčić explains for Diplomacy&Commerce that HNB will be responsible for an especially complicated part of the procedure for the introduction of euro relating to organization and implementation of the cash replacement procedure, i.e. for the production and procurement, as well as distribution of euro banknotes and coins, for preparation and distribution of sets of euro coins and for withdrawal and destruction of Croatian kuna banknotes and coins. Encouraging news about the development of the COVID 19 vac-
cine and about the new potential medication reduce the uncertainty and increase chances for achievement of HNB’s underlying macroeconomic scenario according to which, after an 8% drop in this year, we can expect a GDP growth of 5.2% in the next year, Vujčić states.
lative and implementing, from the position of public and private sector, and implementation of everything that is important at the national level of introducing the euro as the official currency in Croatia. What are the specific steps and what is HNB’s role in this?
gence and implement the reform measures we committed to when joining ERM II, and, on the other hand, to plan and implement all operational activities to make everything ready for successful transition to a new currency. In connection with the operational activities for the introduction
WE WILL HAVE TO WITHDRAW AROUND 500 MILLION KUNA BANKNOTES AND 1.1 BILLION KUNA COINS, AND AT THE SAME TIME ISSUE AN APPROPRIATE QUANTITY OF EURO BANKNOTES AND COINS INTO CIRCULATION We are in the Exchange Rate Mechanism 2 from the middle of this year, which means that we are starting a public consultation which should be completed soon with a document that should define more closely all those adjustments, both legis-
— Accession to European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) in July this year is a key step towards the introduction of the euro in Croatia. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary, on the one hand, to meet the criteria of nominal conver-
of the euro, a draft National Plan for the Changeover from the Croatian Kuna to the Euro, which was jointly drafted by the Croatian National Bank and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, was recently presented. The document describes legal, administra-
tive and logistical activities and the main elements of the euro introduction process such as the manner and deadlines for currency exchange, rules for converting prices and other values, converting deposits and loans and consumer protection mechanisms such as dual display of prices and their monitoring. The interested public has the opportunity to comment on the draft National Plan for the Changeover, and then the document will be officially adopted so that detailed planning and implementation of numerous activities aimed at replacing the kuna with the euro can begin as soon as possible. The currency changeover procedure will be extremely complicated and it will require a timely preparation, coordination of a large number of participants and good public information. In order to have effective preparatory activities for the introduction of euro, six coordination committees will be established – for cash changeover, for legislative adjustments, for the general government adjustment, for the adjustment of the financial system, for the adjustment of the economy and consumer protection, and for communication. Each committee will develop the necessary activities in
its area of responsibility and then monitor their implementation. As expected, the Croatian National Bank will be active in all the areas of preparation for replacement of kuna with euro. HNB will be responsible for an especially complicated part of the procedure for the introduction of euro relating to organization and implementation of the cash replacement procedure, i.e. for the production and procurement, as well as distribution of euro banknotes and coins, for preparation and distribution of sets of euro coins and for withdrawal and destruction of Croatian kuna banknotes and coins. It will be necessary to ensure fast and simple transfer to euro in every part of Croatia. This will be a logistically demanding operation – just to illustrate: we will have to withdraw around 500 million kuna banknotes and 1.1 billion kuna coins, and at the same time issue an appropriate quantity of euro banknotes and coins into circulation.
Considering the dedication of the central bank, Government of the Republic of Croatia and other participants, and the experience with two currency changeovers during 1990s, I am certain that all the preparatory activities will be conducted with high quality and on time, so that we would be fully prepared to switch to the new currency as early as January 1st 2023, which is the first possible date when we could introduce the euro.
In conditions of the pandemic, it is extremely difficult to predict economic trend, but what are the prognoses for GDP recovery, and how do you rate the current state of the banking market and inflation control? — After the outbreak of a new coronavirus epidemic and very severe epidemiological measures affected the extremely strong decline in economic activity in the second quarter, the improving epidemiological situation and the unexpectedly good tourist season
THE CURRENCY CHANGEOVER PROCEDURE WILL BE EXTREMELY COMPLICATED AND IT WILL REQUIRE A TIMELY PREPARATION, COORDINATION OF A LARGE NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS AND GOOD PUBLIC INFORMATION
spurred its strong recovery during the third quarter. However, the level of activity is still well below the level at the beginning of the year, and the latest available monthly data show a slowdown in the intensity of recovery compared to the “second wave” of the epidemic. As we pointed out, it is extremely difficult and ungrateful to estimate economic developments in the next year, primarily because they will be tied to the epidemiological situation and to application of an effective health solution. Encouraging news about the development of the COVID 19 vaccine and about the new potential medication reduce the uncertainty and increase chances for achievement of HNB’s underlying macroeconomic scenario according to which, after an 8% drop in this year, we can expect a GDP growth of 5.2% in the next year. Even though the share of non-performing loans in total loans is still stable at 5.5 percent, which was made possible by the favourable regulatory treatment of moratoriums granted by banks to their clients, the banks have started to form provisions for expected losses, so their profitability has already halved this year. Extremely unfavourable economic trends that we are witnessing in some elements are even more severe than previously used scenarios in the process of testing the resilience of the banking system. However, dealing with the consequences of the crisis is facilitated by the extremely high level of capital and liquidity of the banking system, i.e. by the moves taken by HNB before and during the crisis, such as ordering banks to keep profits made in the past year. Therefore, I am convinced that banks will successfully overcome this disturbance and will support the economic recovery in the conditions of historically low interest rates. Due to the drop in oil prices on world markets, we expect that the inflation rate this year could remain at a very low level on average, only 0.2 percent. As the impact of low oil prices weakens, inflation should gradually rise, so we expect it to average around 1 percent next year. Even such a high degree of price stability achieved makes it easier to pursue a very expansive monetary policy with the aim of maintaining favourable financing conditions and supporting economic recovery.
Our Two Nations Remain Among the Strongest Allies in the World I am confident that this strong partnership will continue with the new administration
H.E. ROBERT KOHORST US Ambassador
lthough my mandate will expire in mid-January, the United States Government and everyone at the Embassy is enthusiastic to bring our relationship to an even higher and stronger level says US Ambassador H.E. Robert Kohorst . “I can say with certainty that the bilateral economic relationship between Croatia and the United States is rock-solid, and it is improving every year”, says Kohorst. How do you assess the current relations between Croatia and the USA? It seems that after the Secretary of State's visit to Croatia, these relations are on an upward trajectory. What attracts the most attention are several topics, from the abolition of double taxation, the abolition of visas for Croatian citizens to the procurement of aircraft for the needs of the Ministry of Defense. What attracts the most attention are several topics, from the abolition of double taxation, the abolition of visas for Croatian citizens to the procurement of aircraft for the needs of the Ministry of Defense. There can be no doubt that this is a time of great uncertainty, not just for our two countries but indeed across the globe. I am happy to report, however, that our two nations remain among the strongest allies in the world, and I’m confident that our close ties will continue to strengthen and grow in 2021. Prime Minister Plenković and the Croatian team helped us make Secretary Pompeo’s historic visit to Dubrovnik in October an unforgettable success. I am confident that this strong partnership will continue with the new administration. Although my mandate will expire in mid-January, the United States Government and everyone at the Embassy is enthusiastic to bring
I CAN SAY WITH CERTAINTY THAT THE BILATERAL ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CROATIA AND THE UNITED STATES IS ROCK-SOLID, AND IT IS IMPROVING EVERY YEAR our relationship to an even higher and stronger level. My wife and I have been privileged to represent the United States in such a great country as Croatia. We will miss our friends and colleagues here but will take great memories with us back to California. I can say with certainty that the bilateral economic relationship between Croatia and the United States is rock-solid, and it is improving every year. More than 150 companies with a U.S. nexus contribute to the Croatian economy, including more than 13,000 jobs here in Croatia. Trade in goods and services between our two countries totaled nearly 13 billion
Kuna (nearly 2 billion Dollars) in 2019 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. These numbers are expected to drop some in 2020 due to COVID-19, but I am confident that our extensive economic ties will help growth bounce back and continue to increase in the years to come. I was delighted to announce in October that the refusal rate for Croatian tourist and business visa applicants fell below three percent for the first time this year, one of the most critical and difficult milestones for aspirant visa-waiver countries. This achievement reflects the reality that the overwhelming majority
of Croatian travelers to the United States travel well, and we welcome them. Our two governments continue strong cooperation on complex and critical challenges, such as information-sharing agreements, security protocols, and the bilateral air marshals agreement which Minister Božinović and I signed in June. While COVID-19 has complicated the certification process by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, I remain optimistic that Croatians will begin to travel to the United States visa-free in the near future. After patient and deliberate collaboration between our governments on a double taxation agreement, I was thrilled to present Finance Minister Marić with the draft treaty in September. Since then, negotiations between Croatia and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have proceeded steadily, with strong momentum to sign the treaty in 2021. Military and defense cooperation between the United States and Croatia is a key pillar of our bilateral relationship, and security continues to be one of our strongest areas of mutual success. The United States provides regular military assistance to Croatia in the form of training, equipment, infrastructure construction (both military and civilian), and specialized military education. Over the past 10 years, our military assistance to Croatia reached approximately four and a half billion Kuna (over 700 million Dollars). Regarding Croatia’s process of reviewing bids for new fighter jets, we recognize that this a sovereign decision and will respect the outcome. However, it is important to note that the F-16 is the world’s most combat-proven fighter, provides the best value and lowest lifetime cost over its 40-year service life, and is not just an airplane but a partnership with the United States. We would welcome Croatia joining the countries around the world which operate F-16s, including the fleet of more than a thousand F-16s in Europe.
- THE ECONOMIST -
SVIJET U 2021. C O N F E R E N C E Tuesday, 8th of December 2020
The National and University Library in Zagreb
„The Economist: Svijet u 2021“ is organized for the second time in Croatia. This is an event that with conclusions of the business and political environment in Croatia, is closing the current year, and it also raises important questions of the country`s development in the coming year. We will gather the top officials and leaders of Croatian Government, ambassadors, economists and leaders of Croatian , EU and world economy. The conference will be opened by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. The conference will be broadcasted online on the live stream on YouTube channel of Color Media Communications and live on HRT 4.
30 Years of SDP SDP remains a great party, which is leading Croatia on the right path when it is most needed and which is key to creating a progressive, modern, democratic society
PEĐA GRBIN President of SDP
e must understand that our society is changing and that we can no longer conduct politics in the same way as we did 10, 20 or 30 years ago, says Pedja Grbin, President of SDP, for Diplomacy & Commerce. Preparations for the upcoming local elections in May 2021, but also the fight against corruption and conducting a different and fairer economic policy are some of the main topics we are dealing with, Grbin states.
SDP recently celebrated 30 years of existence. How do you see the party you lead in Croatian society today and what is its role on the country's political scene? — During these 30 years, SDP was crucial for democratization of Croatia, first through the introduction of multiparty politics
in 1990, and then ten years later through the creation of a truly democratic, modern society. Also, SDP is a party that has twice pulled Croatia out of major economic crises: in early 2000 and in 2011. SDP will continue to play this role. It will be a great party, which takes Croatia on the right path when it is most needed and which is key to creating a progressive, modern, democratic society.
only a question for SDP but also for many other parties, and the answer to it is clear – we must understand that our society is changing and that we can no longer conduct politics in the same way as we did 10, 20 or 30 years ago. As a serious political option, we must provide answers to real problems that people are faced with today, from precarious work, through unemployment, corruption to environmental protec-
SDP WILL PREPARE CLEAR POLICIES AND PROGRAMS THAT WILL MATCH THE PROPOSALS SENT BY THE GOVERNMENT You are the largest and strongest opposition party. What specifically needs to be done in order for a party, which generates a large number of sympathizers and supporters, to come into a position to oppose HDZ side by side? Where are the cracks, within the party itself, in society, in the media…? — The question you asked is not
tion and catastrophic digital infrastructure that does not give our young entrepreneurs the same chances as their peers in Denmark, Ireland, Estonia...
What will SDP focus on in the coming period and what are your priorities? — Of course that one of the big-
gest priorities is to prepare the party for local elections, but that is by no means all that we will be doing. In the campaign for the internal party elections, I announced, and we are now working very seriously on that, that SDP will prepare clear policies and programs that will match the proposals sent by the Government. This is what we did when discussing the Government's tax reform package: we did not stop at criticism of the proposal, but instead we offered a clear alternative. Instead of proposing tax relief for only the richest, we have made a systematic proposal to change the income tax policy, which will help a far greater number of income taxpayers. Instead of a reform that benefits only the richest, we have proposed a far fairer model, based on sustainability and solidarity. We will continue to do so in the future!
The corona crisis is something that has caught us all off guard, but we have been living with it
for almost a year. How do you assess the current situation in Croatia and what would you do to solve the crisis? What are your objections to the Government’s work? — If we compare the numbers of infected people in Croatia with other countries, it is clear that our numbers are bad and the answer is insufficient. Even Sweden is deviating from its model and introducing stricter measures because it is clear that the current ones are not yielding results. What the Government should do is prepare and develop a clear strategy, which will define in advance the thresholds and measures that will be introduced if the thresholds are exceeded. In this way, we are fighting the pandemic systematically, and the citizens and the economy know in advance what will happen and have time to prepare for it. The local elections are approaching, next May. How is SDP preparing? As the capital, Zagreb is very important, so in that sense, when can we expect a decision on whether you will take part in the elections alone or in a coalition with someone, and with whom? — SDP is seriously preparing for the local elections. We are presenting our candidates all over the country, we have presented candidates in Rijeka, Varaždin, Požega ... But, of course, due to its size and the fact that it is the capital city, Zagreb has a special place in the story about the local elections. Negotiations are currently underway with potential coalition partners, I am satisfied with their progress and I am convinced that they will result in an agreement that will enable success in the elections and ensure that Zagreb finally gets a responsible city administration, which will know how to take care of real priorities for development of the city. Corruption is something that’s eating away at Croatian society. And the perception of corruption, but also essentially the corruption itself, is more and more present. What is your position on that and what would you do to solve this, which seems to be the biggest problem in Croatia? — Fight against the corruption in Croatia has been reduced to fighting the consequences of corruption and it’s not a very successful fight. Of course, this fight must
not stop, and for it to be successful we must work on raising the efficiency of the judicial apparatus, which is very low, but fighting the consequences is not enough. We need a systematic fight against the causes of corruption, and it starts from the education system in which it is necessary to introduce civic education that will teach people about the harmful consequences of corruption from school age. Furthermore, other tools need to be strengthened, from access to information, which does not work well, to bodies for the prevention of conflict of interest, which the authorities continuously subvert and make it difficult for them to work. Only such a systematic approach can
yield long-term results.
What do you object the Government for when it comes to conducting economic policy and what do you think is the most urgent solution and where to start? — To start with, the Government does not have an economic policy, but only ad hoc solutions and answers to challenges that cannot provide long-term answers to the problems of the Croatian economy. What Croatia must do first is to realize that the existing model of economic development, based on one branch - tourism - is not sustainable. We need investments in modern technologies, modern in-
dustries, sustainable economy ... We need the Croatian Green New Deal, which, like the American one from the 1930s, will start the economy, reduce social disparities, but which will not be harmful to the environment. Also, we need a new approach to tax policy. The Government is changing the tax system every year, without a clear plan and purpose, dare I say, for daily political, electoral purposes. We need to say “enough!” to that. We can carry out a real, serious tax reform only in combination with the reform of the political system, the system of public administration and local self-government, but this requires courage, which HDZ has never had and will never have.
DURING THESE 30 YEARS, SDP WAS CRUCIAL FOR DEMOCRATIZATION OF CROATIA, FIRST THROUGH THE INTRODUCTION OF MULTIPARTY POLITICS IN 1990, AND THEN TEN YEARS LATER THROUGH THE CREATION OF A TRULY DEMOCRATIC, MODERN SOCIETY
Peđa Grbin and Robert Kohorst, US Ambassador to Croatia
Workers’ Rights and Protection are a Primary Concern SSSH stands for strengthening of workers’ negotiating position, for ensuring efficient protection of their rights and encouraging union organization and collective bargaining
MLADEN NOVOSEL President of the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia
ased on independent research conducted by SSSH in 2018 and 2019, the biggest problem of workers are working hours in terms of their uncertainty, as well as overtime but without a prior written order for overtime work, without recording overtime work and thus without pay, says Mladen Novosel, President of the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia for Diplomacy & Commerce.
Talks are underway with the Government of the Republic of Croatia on amendments to the Labour Act. What are your spe-
cific demands and what is your red line below which you will not go in these negotiations? — SSSH’ demands include the strengthening of workers’ negotiating position, ensuring efficient protection of their rights and encouraging union organization and collective negotiations. This would significantly increase
ments. This means that we will not agree to prescribe greater flexibility in the interest of employers, but the law should refer to the collective agreement, because only then will employers have an interest in collective bargaining, and workers will exercise control over the implementation provided by the union.
MANY EMPLOYERS USED THE EPIDEMIC AS AN EXCUSE AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO REDUCE WORKERS' RIGHTS the coverage of workers by collective agreements, which is in line with the Proposal of the European Commission Framework Directive on adequate minimum wages, which also contains a section on encouraging the development of a system of collective agree-
When it comes to specific areas and requirements, we are most interested in working hours and the institute of fixed-term employment contracts. Based on independent research conducted by the SSSH in 2018 and 2019, the biggest problem of workers are working
hours in terms of their uncertainty, as well as overtime but without a prior written order for overtime work, without recording overtime work and thus without pay. Namely, the organization of working hours with unequal duration, introduced in 2014, is an option that is being abused en masse by employers because the legal reference period is four months, after which it becomes visible how and how much workers worked. The Labour Inspectorate cannot help in supervising this either, because when they come under supervision in the middle of the reference period, it is impossible to determine when and how much the workers work, whether there was overtime at all and whether they will be paid. We will also propose solutions to the Ministry of Labour that will help prevent the abuse of fixedterm employment contracts. Namely, our experience shows that employers use this form of employment contract instead of probationary work or to transfer business risk to workers, and none of this is an allowed use of this contract according to the law. The rights of workers under fixedterm employment contract should be fully equated with those under employment contract for an indefinite period, including the right to severance pay.
Which of the things proposed in the new amendments are most unfavourable for the workers, for their legal security and rights? — Statement given by the Minister of Labour that the main goal of amendments to the Labour Act is to increase the economy’s competitiveness, is concerning. Increasing the economy’s competitiveness is achieved through other policies and measures, and the function of the Labour Law is to regulate the rights and obligations of workers and employers, to enable the protection of workers as the weaker side, and flexi-
bility through a collective agreement. So far, both employers and the Government talked a lot about the flexibility of permanent employment contracts, i.e. facilitated dismissals with the explanation that this will actually help to make less use of fixed-term employment contracts! However, to present these two forms of employment contract as a “system of connected vessels” is completely wrong. An employment contract for an indefinite period is a standard, both in Croatia and in the European Union. Everything else are non-standard forms of employment contracts that are available to employers and workers only for specific cases, for example, fixedterm work, part-time work, permanent seasonal work, agency work, additional work, etc. Therefore, easier dismissal of workers will not reduce fixedterm employment (in which we have been European record holders for several years) as long as such employment is cheaper and more favourable for the employers, and by facilitating redundancies we would only get an even more precarious labour market – where workers are employed for a fixed term, but also where you can be fired at any time without the employer having to explain it. We believe that the conditions for dismissal are clearly prescribed by the law and should not be changed because of the employers who do not want or do not know how to apply them, as well as that all protective provisions should be maintained so that certain groups are not further excluded and marginalized in the labour market. In fact, frequent amendments to the law are a problem for both employers and workers, and bodies that control them but also for the judiciary, and they should simply give up on frequent amendments in order to increase security and stability and better use their strengths which many employers are not aware of because they do not know.
You stated that you are ready to negotiate in good faith, but that the unions are also ready for union actions. What actions specifically if there is need for them? — We hope that this process of broad consultations will contribute to the Government's better understanding of the current Labour Act and consideration of its implementation. Namely, the Gov-
ernment can somewhat compensate the lack of statistics and analysis and supervision over the implementation of regulations and collective agreements, which the SSSH has been warning about for years, with the information and arguments it will receive from their social partners. We want to remind you that the consultation phase is followed by a preliminary assessment of the impact of regulations, which should prove the need for normative solutions, after which concrete work on amendments to the Labour Act would begin. SSSH is always ready to provide arguments for its demands at the ta-
as maximum daily working hours from Monday to Saturday, and the employer could choose a certain number of working Sundays, depending on his interest and needs of the environment, season, etc. We find the base for such an attitude in the demands of workers in trade and the opinion of the vast majority of citizens. Namely, numerous surveys, including the SSSH survey from September 2019 on working hours, conducted on a representative sample of 1,000 respondents, show that as many as 80 percent of them support a ban on working on Sundays! It is our position that a free Sunday is a social interest, a per-
cause on that day the so-called social services don’t work, through non-payment of increased salary to the worker, because in that way work on Sundays would not pay off to the employer, all the way to significant health consequences for the workers. The entire cost of remedying these consequences is shifted from employers to the trade worker and to the society as a whole. In the end, trade is certainly not an activity without whose work on Sundays the community cannot function, which makes the work of shops on Sundays even more meaningless. Except for employers, of course!
THE MATTER OF WORKING HOURS, INCLUDING WORK ON SUNDAYS, IS ONE OF THE MAIN PROGRAM PRIORITIES OF SSSH AND ONE OF THE DIMENSIONS OF ITS "RAD PO MJERI ČOVJEKA" (WORK FIT FOR PEOPLE) CONCEPT
ble, and when that is not possible, then we will use strikes, protests and even collecting signatures for a referendum at the initiative of citizens, often in cooperation with other centres. We will be ready for that now as well, if necessary.
What is SSSH’s position regarding work on Sundays and how would you resolve this issue? — The matter of working hours, including work on Sundays, is one of the main program priorities of SSSH and one of the dimensions of its Rad po mjeri čovjeka (Work Fit for People) concept. Together with our Commercial Trade Union, we are asking for changes to the Trade Act in such a way that working hours are regulated
sonal need and right of every individual, and that the interest of employers' profits in trade cannot be above the interest of the society. When governing this issue, it is necessary to respect one's own tradition and customs, to determine the day of the week when people have the right to socialize with family, friends or, simply, to leisure. This was, for example, recognized by the German Constitutional Court, but not by the Croatian one, where the ban on work on Sundays was rejected twice already! Work on Sundays brings a series of issues and bad consequences, from the impossibility to care for family members who need the care of others be-
How has the general situation and the condition caused by the corona virus pandemic affected the position of the workers? — The pandemic certainly brought additional insecurity to already sufficiently uncertain working conditions in Croatia. In addition to physical insecurity of exposure to the virus in the workplace, there is also insecurity related to job retention and income preservation, as a condition for his or her existence. Many employers used the epidemic as an excuse and an opportunity to reduce workers' rights. At the employers’ level, the crucial thing here was to show whether or not there were unions, i.e. it was proven that the union makes a differ-
ence because we prevented the arbitrariness of employers. But, it could have been worse. The Government intended to legalize such employers’ behaviour with the Act on Labour Relations in Circumstances of the Declared COVID-19 Pandemic (specifically, by suspending certain provisions of the Labour law, give rights to employers to change employment contracts unilaterally and suspend parts or entire collective agreements), whose referral to adoption procedure was prevented by SSSH by sending an open letter to the Prime Minister (March 25, 2020) and by informing our European association, the European Trade Union Confeder-
— On this day (November 19, 2020), 155,079 unemployed workers have been registered at the Croatian Employment Service (CES). On the day when the SSSH began to monitor the unemployment situation on a daily basis (March 23, 2020), 136,071 people were registered at the CES. Comparing these two numbers, it could be said that unemployment increased by 19,008 people. However, the situation is much more complex and requires a much “finer” statistical monitoring. The inflow into unemployment was mostly due to expiration of fixed-term employment contracts, but some did not even register with the CES (most of-
tributed by SSSH, especially the Measures to support the preservation of jobs in activities affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), mostly tourism, catering and other service activities, and the Measure of shortening working hours, primarily intended for industry. I already commented on the (non-) observance of workers’ rights.
How do you rate mutual cooperation of unions in Croatia and is there room and where for progress and for achieving a European level of trade unionism (like, for example, in France, Germany, etc.)? — Three representative trade union centres in Croatia are trying to
TRADE UNION COOPERATION AND SOLIDARITY KNOW NO BORDERS BECAUSE SOLIDARITY AND TOGETHERNESS ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRATIC TRADE UNIONISM AND THE ONLY GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS ation (ETUC), which applied further pressure by sending memos to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia and to the Minister of Labour, President of the European Commission, EC Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Human Rights Commissioner and President of the European Committee of Social Rights.
How respected are the rights of workers in crisis? Do you have information on how many of them stopped working/got fired?
ten those who did not exercise the right to unemployment benefits, which is at least 9 months of work within the last 24 months), part of them retired, some emigrated, etc. Of course, there were also business-related terminations of employment contracts for an indefinite period of time, but SSSH managed to include a ban on this form of dismissal in the aid for the last quarter of this year for all employers who use subsidies to preserve jobs. It should certainly be noted here that CES’ measures were important for the preservation of employment, the design of which was significantly con-
cooperate, in the interest of their members, i.e. workers. So far, they have been the most successful in collecting citizens' signatures for a referendum that would prevent the adoption of a regulation or amend an already adopted regulation. They have been successful in these actions four times already. It was the biggest test of their ability to come together and their strength and organization to collect the signatures of at least 10 percent of voters in a short period of 15 days, the last of which related to the pension reform implemented by the Government in 2018 and unions returned it as it
was in 2019. The trade union centres are still cooperating in the consultative process regarding the amendment of the Labour Act, and during this year they also cooperated on subsidies for the preservation of jobs. Examples of France and Germany that you mention are not a standard for “European level of trade unionism” because their systems are diametrically different, from the level of trade union organization (where France records an extremely low level), through governing workers’ rights (where France governs these rights more through regulations and less through collective agreements), to the number of trade union centres (France has five, and Germany one). I would like to say here that it is ungrateful to compare models by countries because they were created on certain historical foundations, traditions and, for example, the culture of dialogue. Of course, it is always desirable to compare ourselves with the most successful and see whose experiences and good practices can be adopted or adapted, but in the end it is important to realize that we ourselves are most responsible for what happens to us. By this I mean the key thing that workers need to be aware of, which is that it is necessary to organize a union if they want to be stronger in the fight for their interests and protect their rights. In this regard, in the end, we want to emphasize that SSSH has a highly developed bilateral cooperation with the countries you mentioned, but also with a number of others. SSSH and NHS have good trade union cooperation through the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) where we are members, and the third Croatian representative centre, MHS, is in the process of joining ETUC. The focus of SSSH is not only on cooperation with trade union centres from which we can learn a lot, but also with those to whom it can help with their knowledge and experience, and these are trade union centres in the region, whose countries are in various stages of accession to the European Union. Trade union cooperation and solidarity know no borders because solidarity and togetherness are the principles of democratic trade unionism and the only guarantee of success.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES NATIONAL DAYS
KATARINA ĆAVAR MOŠNIČKA New sales manager at ROCKWOOL Adriatic Ćavar Mošnička has been at ROCKWOOL for 13 years as the head of customer service for the Adriatic region, which includes Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia. She will be focused on further strengthening and developing the sales network in Croatia and Slovenia. Suzana Rebelić, who has been at ROCKWOOL Adriatic since 2007, is now taking over the position of customer service specialist.
BARBARA MESIĆ Enters the Supervisory Board of the Liburnia Riviera Hotel Former chief advisor at the Ministry of Tourism Barbara Mesić will be appointed to the Supervisory Board of the Kvarner company Liburnia Riviera Hotels, it was announced on the Zagreb Stock Exchange as part of the announcement of the general assembly session scheduled for December 29. The media reported last week on management changes at Liburnia Riviera Hotels after Heimo Waldemar Hirn resigned as CEO and was replaced by Agron Berisha, one of Austria's Falkensteiner leaders.
in November & December NOVEMBER
tart of the War of S Independence
" Dita e Pavarësisë" - Independence Day DECEMBER
BELGIUM King's Day
I ndependence Day of 1917
Adaptation to Online Classes The development of students' mental health should be treated the same way as all other subjects
MILENA PRODANIĆ TIŠMA Founder of the IBSZ Bright Horizons
ositive feedback from students and parents is an additional wind in our backs to continue to treat the psychophysical development of our students as our priority, Milena Prodanić Tišma, Founder of the IBSZ Bright Horizons, explains for Diplomacy & Commerce. At school, we continuously monitor educational trends in the world and develop them further, adapting them to our needs, including the UK National Curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum, adds Prodanić Tišma.
The corona crisis brought new rules and new measures, the most when it comes to education and schooling, as it seems. How has IBSZ Bright Horizons adjusted to new measures and rules? — At Bright Horizons IBSZ, we were completely ready for the corona crisis because our classes are
adapted to online channels. We were also aware of the fact that, after the students return to school this autumn, they will need support more than ever before. This was one of the reasons why we introduced the Mindfulness program. All the new programs that we introduce, including this one, go through evaluation after the initial stage, and all the participants are included in this evaluation. The evaluation shows us how successful we were until now, and what direction we
precisely why I believe that the development of students' mental health should be treated the same way as all other subjects. I believe that parents, but also the schools across Croatia, will recognize the importance of children’s mental health and the role it has in development of their emotional, academic and social skills. Of course, when returning to school, we had to ensure the implementation of epidemiological measures, so that our students and employees were as safe as possible.
students have the option to have individual online consultations with a teacher, school counselor and/or psychologist if they need additional support. We made additional efforts to simulate a regular school day as faithfully as possible, which posed a special challenge for us since we use innovative learning programs. In these extremely difficult times that students across Croatia are facing, we believe that it is extremely important to protect their physical, but above all mental health.
IN OUR SCHOOL WE EDUCATE CHILDREN AS ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS IN SOCIETY, SO WE WANT THEM TO BE FULLY ACQUAINTED WITH ALL THE TOPICS THAT ARE CRUCIAL TO SOCIETY need to take further. With every new program, new opportunities are opening up and they don’t just apply to active inclusion of our school’s community but also to the possibility of offering the program to other schools. I am aware that in this time of hyper information, it is very difficult for students to maintain concentration, focus and productivity, and that’s
Online classes are one of the modes of operation. To what extent have the curricula and methods of work changed specifically? — Our biggest advantage over the past period of isolation has been our complete adaptability of teaching classes online. The entire process was coordinated and monitored by a professional service, and
That is why our expert service was available to all students throughout the distance learning period, just like during regular classes. The school psychologist was in regular, daily communication with students and their families as well as with professional staff of the school, where their timely giving guidance on how to deal with the whole crisis as eas-
ily and painlessly as possible was crucial. Positive feedback from students and parents is an additional wind in our backs to continue to put the psychophysical development of our students first.
Has the work program changed and to what extent?? — The school used different online apps in its work with the students even before the corona crisis. This method of work has helped us significantly because the students were prepared and have already adopted numerous skills that made their daily work in online classrooms much easier. The biggest challenge was to find a way to offer education to the youngest students, the first grade, who I also must commend for the great effort and support from parents who helped them keep up with the classes successfully. What you do to make the process of work and learning easier for your students and employees? — It is very important to continuously monitor the needs of students. Primarily by teachers and the expert team. We organize different workshops at the school depending on the needs. We must never forget all the people who are involved in the work of our school. We also try to provide maximum support to all our employees here. In this time, it is difficult to conduct classic team-building activities, but we tried to organize mindfulness workshops for them as well, which we conducted even online, depending on the situation. All this facilitates the work process inside the school and offers additional support to our colleagues. Your Curriculum was adapted to the UK National Curriculum and the International Primary Curriculum. Do you develop these curricula further? — At school, we continuously monitor educational trends in the world and develop them further, adapting them to our needs. I can say with great pride that, regardless of the new circumstances, we have continued with the planned enrichment of the curriculum and we integrated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into teaching as an integral part of the curriculum. Global development goals include climate change and sustainable consump-
tion, emphasize the value of innovation and the importance of peace and justice for all. They are universal and applicable in all countries and communities, by all people, and the specific opportunities, conditions and opportunities in different parts of the planet should be taken into account when implementing them. In our school we educate children as active participants in society, so we want them to be fully acquainted with all the topics that are crucial to society. It is of great importance to continuously encourage students to talk about these topics that are so important. The values we promote were only upgraded and deepened.
What are your plans by the end of this year and for the year 2021? — As every crisis should be
tion in London. The Mindfulness in Schools Project, established by teachers from the UK’s most successful schools and also the most recognized provider of training and mental health curricula for schools, aims to improve children’s lives by contributing to their positive mental health. More than 350,000 students worldwide are involved in the MISP program, which develops their academic, social and emotional skills. Mindfulness in Schools Project considers mental health to be as important as other school subjects, and the coronavirus crisis has further confirmed that the focus in education should be placed on the mental health of students. I am extremely happy and proud that the students of the International Elementary School Vedri obzori have been part of this world-renowned and
vide students with the best possible upbringing and education. We are aware of our responsibility for student safety even during online classes, and this year we signed a contract with the National Online Safety Agency, which provides support, education for teachers, students and parents through this demanding period of their growing up.
What are you most proud of in your work and what would be your message as someone who works in education, but also in management at the same time? — When I set out to open the school, my guiding thought was to provide an upbringing and education that would recognize the individual. A system that would be supportive and in which students would be active participants. With a sense of justice, equality among
AS EVERY CRISIS SHOULD BE VIEWED FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF OPPORTUNITY, NOT JUST DANGER, WE DECIDED TO USE THIS CRISIS CAUSED BY CORONAVIRUS TO DEVELOP OUR MINDFULNESS PROGRAM viewed from the perspective of opportunity, not just danger, we decided to use this crisis caused by coronavirus to develop our Mindfulness program. We will apply it with a regular program to support students in their daily work to develop concentration, their focus and productivity. At the beginning of the school year, all teachers were introduced to the principles of mindfulness, and the program itself is led by a psychologist from our school, who completed the MISP (Mindfulness in Schools Project) educa-
important program since September this year, which will strengthen their concentration, focus and productivity.
When it comes to the education system, especially of foreign schools, where do you see opportunities for advancement, what is missing to make it even better? — At the end of every school year, we analyze the approaches we used in educational work. During this dynamic period full of challenges, we must find ways to pro-
people. Where multiculturalism is their natural environment. After seeing off the first generation of our students to high schools, I am proud to see that we have succeeded in that. Such active participants within schools tomorrow will be active participants in the society. A great responsibility lies on schools in the educational aspect. Of course, it’s only possible if the parents are our partners in it. I believe we are on the right track and I look forward to the new generations to come.
The First Online Edition of Zagreb Film Festival
Photo: Samir Ceric Kovacevic
What we would certainly like to see is for the festival to return to “its old self” in the most part
BORIS T. MATIĆ Director of Zagreb Film Festival
oris T. Matić, Director of Zagreb Film Festival talked about plans for next year for Diplomacy&Commerce, but also discovered details and experiences from this year’s ZFF, which was different from the previous ones in many ways. The number of films remained the same as in the previous years, but we divided them by programs differently. We skipped some of the programs this year, because they didn’t make sense without a live conversation about the film, Matić states.
The year 2020 is by no means what we expected. The Zagreb
Film Festival celebrates its 18th edition in the atmosphere of the COVID 19 pandemic, this year for the first time completely online. How was the opening and what are your impressions so far? — The opening ceremony was nice and unusual. In the empty
strange times. Everything is going fantastically for now....
Statistics show that you had much more viewers this year because of the online platform. Did you expect something like this?
tire Croatia, we obviously "caught" people outside Zagreb. All in all, we are very satisfied for now...
What makes this year’s festival different from all the previous ones, aside from this main online feature?
THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE HAS AN EAR FOR CINEMA AND THEY ARE A GOOD PARTNER TO THE MAIN FILM AUTHORITY IN THE COUNTRY - THE CROATIAN AUDIOVISUAL CENTER Tuškanac cinema, with the presence of a part of ZFF team and technical crew that filmed us for the stream. We are satisfied with how everything looked like, but the feeling was very strange. After the opening, we received many messages and calls from people who found it all very nice, as much as this is possible in these
— We didn't have too many expectations. We were able to rely on the experiences of colleagues who held festivals online and those experiences were different. We knew that a part of our audience, the part that is not too prone to technology, would be deprived of this year's ZFF program, but because of the expansion to the en-
— That is more or less the main feature of this festival. It's all online. No cinemas, no guests, no live movie announcements in front of packed halls. The number of films remained the same as in previous years, but we divided them differently by program. We skipped some of the programs this year because they didn’t
How do you usually choose the program for the Festival? What were your “guides” year after year? — ZFF is a festival that awards the first or second films of a particular director. Other criteria are that the films must not be older than the beginning of last year and that they have not been shown in Croatia. These are formal rules. The rest is a matter of my personal taste and the taste of other selectors for individual programs. In the final selection, after watching a large number of films, an important role is played by the so-called "festival politics", i.e. an assessment of what would be interesting for our audience, which topic is attractive enough, from which country the film comes and some other specific things. It is always important for us to offer stories in the program that will bring our audience closer to a certain problem or culture that they know less about. Is there a title you would especially like to point out this year and why? — To continue to my previous answer, it is interesting that the
Main Program featured two films from almost unknown cinemas for our audience. These are “Gaza Mon Amour”, a Palestinian film a very beautiful melodrama about an elderly fisherman who lives and works in the Gaza Strip, that is, he fishes in only 3 miles of sea that “belong” to Gaza. It is the first Palestinian film that the ZFF audiences can see in the program since its inception. And the second film is called “Orphanage” and deals with growing up in Afghanistan during the Soviet intervention in that country. It’s nice that both films tell normal life
few different scenarios. It all depends on which direction life will take given the pandemic. What we would definitely like is for the festival to mostly go back to the “old”. At least in those basic festival activities. Screening of films in full cinemas, arrival of guests and socializing before and after the film. We will probably pass on some new experiences and for sure everything will never be the same again, but it is up to us to keep track of the situation, talk to colleagues from other festivals and finally find the best solution at that moment.
little filming. Currently, almost 30 feature films which have been approved for co-financing are waiting to be made. All this will leave consequences in the next few years. The fact is that the current Ministry of Culture has an ear for cinema and that they are a good partner to the main film authority in the country - the Croatian Audiovisual Center. Together, they have devised several campaigns to get things started and I hope for their success. What is still lacking in cinematography is the more active participation of HRT in film production. They
IT IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT FOR US TO OFFER STORIES IN THE PROGRAM THAT WILL BRING OUR AUDIENCE CLOSER TO A CERTAIN PROBLEM OR CULTURE THAT THEY KNOW LESS ABOUT stories in abnormal times in an unusual setting in some gentle way, as I would put it.
Do you have a vision and ideas for next year? Will it perhaps be a comeback to the old or a combination of online and live? How desirable an experience was this year? — I wouldn’t say that I have a vision. It sounds a bit pretentious to qualify myself as a visionary :) We definitely have a plan and a
How do you normally rate the cultural and film scene in Croatia? The state of cinema? What it lacks, and what would you praise? — Everything has more or less stopped now ... Three or four TV series and one or two films have been made this year. Foreign movie crews that make films and series in Croatia, for which our country has become famous in recent years, have appeared shyly in the last few months. So, there’s
buy certain movies for screening when the movies are ready or some of the movies before production starts, but all that is not enough considering the amount of money that ends up in their account from the subscription. This relationship must be improved and I am sure that, no matter how much they are not aware of it, would benefit greatly in the long run with a bigger and more normal relationship with Croatian cinema.
Photo: Samir Ceric Kovacevic
make sense without live talks about the film...
Boris T Matić, Lana Matić, Katarina Crnčić and Hrvoje Laurenta
Three years of Diplomacy & Commerce in Croatia his November, Diplomacy & Commerce magazine celebrates 3 years of publishing in Croatia. As a syndication of the British “The Economist”, adapted to local markets, we also appear in Austria and Serbia. In the meantime , In Croatia, adjusting to new circumstances, we focused on the online interactive edition and on our website.
Our associates, clients, subscribers, friends are already accustomed to excellent receptions to mark a successful work and round off the year. This time, because of the COVID 19 pandemic and the measures we have to follow, we are not doing a party, but we remember what it looked like from the very beginning of the previous three years.
2017. Launching party - Residence of the British Ambassador in Zagreb
Andrew Dalgleish British Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Thomas E. Schultze German Ambassador to Croatia, Mrs Ruža Ristanović Magazin director, Mr Boban Spasojević Executive Editor, Mrs Sandra Ćoban, Mr Robert Čoban president of Color Media Communications
Mr Dejan Ljuština PWC, Mr Robert Čoban president of Color Media Communications, Mrs Ruža Ristanović Magazin director, Mr Boban Spasojević Executive Editor
Mr. Gordan Markotic adviser in the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affears with wife, Mr Robert Čoban president of Color Media Communications
Mrs Dubravka Vrgoč director of the Croatian National Theater, Mrs Aida Salamanka Country Director British Council Croatia and Slovenia
Mr Boban Spasojević Executive Editor, Mrs Ruža Ristanović Magazin director, H.E. Andrew Dalgleish British Ambassador to Croatia
Mr Sven and Mrs Jagoda Darrer
Mr Marko Bašić German-Croatian Industrial and Chamber of Commerce
H.E. Andrew Dalgleish British Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. Thomas E. Schultze German Ambassador to Croatia
Mrs Srebrenka Saks DHL with collages
H. E. Mohammad Reza Sadegh, Ambassador of Iran with wife and wife of the British ambassador
Mr Dejan Ljuština pwc and Mr Mladen Fogec FIC
H. E. Mohammad Reza Sadegh, Ambassador of Iran with wife and wife of the British ambassador
2018. Reception on the occasion of the first birthday - Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb
Dario Mihelin, advisor to Croatian President, H.E. Diana Madunić, Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Andrew Stuart Dalgleish, Ambassador of the UK, H.E. Robert Klinke, Ambassador of Germany, H.E Constantin Mihail Grigorie, Ambassador of Romania
H.E. Andrew Stuart Dalgleish, Ambassador of the UK and Mr. Robert Čoban, President of Color Media Communications
Ruža Ristanović and Boban Spasojević from Diplomacy&Commerce and Mrs Akuoma Helen Boromisa from International Women's Club
Svetlana Nenadović Glušac, Boban Spasojević, Ruža Ristanović, Robert Čoban, Sandra Čoban, Sven Darrer, the Diplomacy&Commerce team
Boban Spasojević from Diplomacy&Commerce and Mrs Srebrenka Saks, Director of DHL Croatia
Boban Spasojević and Tomislav Kero, Palma Travel
Mr. Damjan Ljuština, Mr. Robert Čoban and Mr. Duško Ljuština
Mr. Hasim Koc, from TIKA, and Boban Spasojević
Mr. Robert Čoban and the bard of the Yugoslav Boban Spasojević and Boris Vujčić, Governor of and Croatian diplomacy, Budimir Lončar the Croatian National Bank
Boban Spasojević and H.E. Mr. Reza Sadegh Ambassador of Iran
H.E. Mr. Robert Klinke, Ambassador of Germany, Ruža Ristanović, Boban Spasojević and Robert Čoban
Ivica Jakić, President of the Swiss- Croatian Business Association with his colleagues
H.E. Mr. Robert Klinke, Ambassador of Germany and the bard of the Yugoslav and Croatian diplomacy, Budimir Lončar
Mr. Hrvoje Lapić, Brand Manager of Porsche Croatia
2019. Reception on the occasion of the second birthday - Mimara Museum in Zagreb
Members of Academia Cravatica
Mr Robert Čoban, the CEO of Color Media Communications, publisher
Mr Boban Spasojević Executive director DC, US Mr Boban Spasojević, Mr Gordan Markotić Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Ambassador to Croatia, H.E. W. Robert Kohorst and Mr Robert Čoban
Mr Robert Čoban, Mr Ivica Jakic Swiss Croatian Business Club and Boban Spasojević
Mr Boban Spasojević, Mr Krešimir Macan managing director of public relations agency, Manjgura
Head of Legal Affairs of Utpuh Mr Hrvoje Grenac, Mrs Andrea Perkov Utpuh, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, the French Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Gael Francois Veyssiere, Mr Boban Spasojević Mr Boban Spasojević, Mrs Sanja Brkić
Mr Robert Čoban , President of the International Women’s Club Mrs Jenner Pešut, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, Mr Tomislav Kero Mr Boban Spasojević, the Serbian Ambassador Commercial Director Palma Travel Croatia, Mr to Croatia H.E. Mira Nikolić Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, Mr Nenad Korkut with a friend, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, Director of AHK Mr Sven Thorsten Potthoff,Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban , Mrs Srebrenka Saks director DHL, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, Mr Duško Ljuština, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Boban Spasojević, Mr Vanja Ovčar Special Advisor to the Minister Drako Horvat
Mr Robert Čoban, the Swedish Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Diana Helen Madunic, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mrs Anja Picelj- Kosak US Embassy, Mrs Snježana Vukić UK Embassy
Mr Robert Čoban, Director of Communication Division of CCE Mrs Martina Sokač Saraga, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Marko Klenović Franco-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President of the Franco-Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mrs Višnja Ježić Sorić, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robert Čoban, Mr Christos Framakis Greek Embassy, Mrs Ermioni Mitsiou, Mr Boban Spasojević
Mr Robeert Čoban, the Austrian Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Josef Markus Wuketich,Mr Boban Spasojević
A BETTER WAY NOT TO PAY
Many Countries Need Debt Relief But how and from whom? ith debts looming and dollars scarce, Zambia has wrestled in recent months with a predicament. It knew that failing to pay bondholders would be damaging. But paying only them, having failed to pay others in full, could be worse. Other creditors would “blow off my legs”, the country’s finance minister said. So on November 13th Zambia became the sixth government to default on its bonds this year—after Argentina, Belize, Ecuador, Lebanon and Suriname. Others may follow. Although financial markets have regained much of the composure they lost in March, many countries still have more debt than they can comfortably handle. Thirty-eight governments have a credit rating that denotes a “material” risk of default or worse, twice the number at the end of 2009. The debts of poor countries would be less daunting if they were not such a tangle of competing claims. The 73 poorest owe almost a fifth ($102bn) of their foreign debt to private creditors, from bondholders to banks, a similar amount to China, $76bn to other governments and the rest to multilateral lenders like the World
ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE G20 GROUP OF BIG ECONOMIES, CHINA WILL SIGN OFF ON A “COMMON FRAMEWORK” FOR RELIEVING THE DEBTS OF THE WORLD’S 73 POOREST COUNTRIES, IF THEY PROVE IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAR Bank. And that is just the stuff that international institutions can count. Crafting equitable debt-relief deals from such a hotch-potch is difficult. Three changes in particular would help: a more joinedup approach by government lenders, tougher legislation to curb awkward private creditors, and greater use of flexible instruments that align repayment more closely with a borrower’s circumstances. Any debt debacle pits the interests of borrowers against those of lenders, but also pits lenders against each other. One creditor may be forgiving. But that allows others to free-ride on its generosity and collect payment in full. Thus every creditor wants to be sure others are doing their bit.
In Zambia’s case Chinese lenders (which have agreed to defer some payments) and private bondholders (which have not) blame each other for the impasse. To make sure each of them is doing their fair share, most rich-country governments offer debt relief jointly through the Paris Club, a grouping of government lenders. America has long urged China to join. And at a summit on November 21st-22nd, China will do the next best thing. Along with the rest of the G20 group of big economies, it will sign off on a “common framework” for relieving the debts of the world’s 73 poorest countries, if they prove impossible to bear. The framework is limited in scope. It will
apply only to countries that request help, fess up to their full liabilities, submit to IMF-style policy prescriptions and show that they cannot sustain their debts. It won’t, in other words, deliver quick, unconditional debt relief to all poor countries, regardless of their need or demand for it. The framework requires all official creditors to do their share. It also obliges the borrowing country to seek similar help from private lenders. The framework is a welcome step. The G20 should now consider some extensions. The same principles should also apply to other emerging markets, beyond the 73 poorest. The framework favours reducing interest rates or
delaying repayments over cutting the stock of debt. That bias should change. It typically reflects accounting conventions in creditor countries rather than any strong economic rationale. Indeed, investment and growth respond more vigorously when debts are reduced, rather than payments lightened or lengthened. And if private creditors resist doing their share and pursue full payment in the courts, G20 governments should pass additional legislation to cap the gains that vulture funds can obtain from litigation. Such laws may look like clumsy infringements on creditors’ rights. But they can be justified if a creditor’s prospects for a favourable legal settlement depend on debt relief provided ultimately by taxpayers. Uncertain times have, for example, inspired new interest in bonds that automatically pay less when commodity prices tumble or natural disasters strike. Other instruments might pay out extra when GDP growth exceeds a threshold. Some of these instruments might need an independent institution to help standardise terms and referee disputes. Another idea worth exploring is “bendy bonds”, which would let the borrower lengthen their maturity in a pinch (and defer interest payments) in return for extra interest at the end of the bond’s extended life. Similar bonds already exist in the corporate-debt markets, which might make a sovereign version easier for investors to accept and price. Mr Brady’s clever idea revolutionised the market for developing-country debt. The time is ripe for another transformation.
From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com
THE SACRED RIGHT TO OFFEND
A Jihadist Beheading Spurs the French to Defend Secularism President Emmanuel Macron praises an assassinated teacher n a courtyard at the Sorbonne, the paramount French symbol of learning, President Emmanuel Macron on October 21st paid homage to a teacher slain “for embodying…the freedom that is transmitted and sustained at school.” Samuel Paty was a middle-school history teacher in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a genteel town north-west of Paris. Earlier this month he had shown pupils caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo during a class on freedom of expression. Those pupils who might be offended, he suggested, could choose not to look at them. On October 16th, after threats against him by a parent and on social media, Mr Paty was beheaded in an attack that police are treating as an act of terrorism. Shortly before Mr Paty’s class discussion, on October 2nd, Mr Macron had given a speech not far from Conflans in which he warned the French about the rising threat of “Islamist separatism”. This is a radical political project, he declared, which is testing the resilience of the secular French republic, and menaces “freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and the right to blaspheme”. Mr Macron was accused in some quarters of cynically chasing the far-right vote, in others of stigmatising Muslims. Mr Paty’s beheading has rendered his analysis less extravagant than prescient. France’s tolerance for ridiculing religion is often difficult for outsiders to understand. The land of Voltaire protects the right to believe, and not to believe, as well as the right to treat any sacred belief with irreverence. It also attempts to banish religious affairs from official public life. A law in 1905 entrenched laïcité, a strict form of secularism designed to protect private religious expression but also to keep religion out of state institutions, after an anti-clerical struggle with the Catholic
THE LAND OF VOLTAIRE PROTECTS THE RIGHT TO BELIEVE, AND NOT TO BELIEVE, AS WELL AS THE RIGHT TO TREAT ANY SACRED BELIEF WITH IRREVERENCE church. It is buttressed by another law that protects the right to blaspheme, which dates to 1881. For secularists this requires constant vigilance. France’s blasphemy law has protected the publication by Charlie Hebdo of satirical caricatures of the Prophet (the ones Mr Paty showed his pupils) against charges of incitement to hatred. Under French law it is legal to denigrate a religion, but not to insult or incite hatred of any individual on the basis of that religion. The overall effect, critics claim, is to legitimise Islamophobia. Defenders of the law note that a religion is an idea, and ideas should be open to debate and mockery. They add that mocking Jesus is equally protected. Since he was elected in 2017 Mr Macron has found it awkward to talk publicly about all this. Five
years ago, when he was economy minister and France was battered by terrorist attacks, including one at the Charlie Hebdo offices, he sounded more laissez-faire about secularism. As president, he seems to have had second thoughts. He is now convinced that the “soft” signs of Islamism— such as a bus driver who refuses to take female passengers dressed “unsuitably”—may mask a more sinister political plan, which can supply recruits to violence. Since 2017 anti-terrorist police have thwarted 32 attempted attacks in France. “The problem,” Mr Macron said in early October, “is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the republic.” Hugo Micheron, author of a book on jihadists in France, says it is no coincidence that a teach-
er was the target. “Education in France represents the transmission of the principles of the republic,” he says, and today’s generation of jihadists are “waging an ideological war to counter that transmission, and in which France is seen as the factory of Western ideology.” The government has responded with a clampdown. It has outlawed one Islamist association, and the police have raided others. Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, has ordered the closure of a mosque on the Paris fringes, and wants to expel 231 Islamist radicals and shut down aid groups he deems fronts for radicalism. He also wants better control of hate speech on social media. Before Mr Paty was slain, a parent denounced the teacher on Facebook for “Islamophobia”. Another radical known to the French intelligence services also mobilised against him. This amounted to what Mr Darmanin called a “fatwa” against Mr Paty. The perpetrator himself—an 18-yearold refugee of Chechen origin, who was shot dead by the police—posted a photo of the decapitated head on social media. Addressed to Mr Macron, it boasted of the killing of “one of your hell dogs who dared to denigrate Muhammad”. As France tightens up, this will doubtless embolden those critics who accuse the government of “weaponising” secularism against Muslims. For his part, Mr Macron says he wants to avoid being trapped by those who seek to portray the combat against political Islam as one that “stigmatises all Muslims”. It is, rather, about the French state’s ability to educate children, believers or non-believers, as free-thinking citizens. The struggle, said Mr Macron, is nothing less than “existential”. From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com
Productive Disagreement: When We Can Only Agree that We Don't Agree There are many differences between speaking in the public sphere and personal conversation, yet there are many similarities as well. First one is finding common ground when we strongly disagree in a matter. Shared reality gives the platform to start to talk about it COLUMN
JAGODA POROPAT DARRER Business Communication Professional
ublic discourse is broken“, says Julia Dahr, a partner at Boston Consulting Group. In one of her famous TED Talks she argues that contempt has replaced conversation, and offers a model for structural disagreement. As she says, human beings have genuine will to persuade and to be persuaded. She suggests that the current public sphere, on internet and all around us, when people debate, they attack the person to win the argument rather than argue the idea itself. According to her, first of all is necessary to separate the ideas from the identity. Furthermore, Dhar offers a resolution of the problem, suggesting that the best way to reach people is finding common grounds. At this stage it is useful to adopt the rules of debating. Debate is an organized and structured conversation. Following its basic rules, it is easy to not stick to our ideas as we own them, but to keep the mind open, in the way that we disengage our identity from our ideas. In debating the conversation should be direct and uttermost respectful. The role of active listening as a public speaking tool more and more used in managerial techniques is a top priority when debating. „Listen, engage, and keep your mind open “, advises Dhar. Crucial thing in mastering an assertive communication model is to build a solid structure of the conversation plus having the will to listen and at the same time keeping our minds open to other's ideas. Shared reality gives the platform to start to talk about it, allowing to find that common ground that we have
with our opponents. Shared reality is the experience of having in common with others inner states about the world. Inner states include the perceived relevance of something, as well as feelings, beliefs, or evaluations of something. The experience of having such inner states in common with others fosters the perceived truth of those inner states. Humans are profoundly motivated to create shared realities with others, and in so doing they fulfill their needs to have valid beliefs about the world and to connect with others (Echterhoff and Higgins, 2020). In a world where the public discourse is disrupted, rebuilding a sense of shared reality among different segments of our society isn’t easy, especially as it seems forces such internet trolls are working towards just the opposite goal. Also, deeply committed advocates and true believers from
both sides are making it difficult for to rebuild that invaluable common ground that shared reality rests upon. Today society, according to Keaveny (2020), has lost its shared reality. In the past, people turned to widely respected societal institutions for information: the government, major news outlets, trusted communicators like Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley or Edward R. Murrow. Those days are gone. Now, just about every source is suspect of bias and serving interests other than the truth. In consequence, people increasingly believe what they wish to believe, or what they find pleasing and reassuring. In the quest to restore peace of mind, people scramble for alternative sources of certainty. Typically, this means narrowing one’s circle of confidants to one’s tribe, one’s side of the aisle, one’s ethnicity or one’s religion. Psychological research
FOLLOWING THE NOTION OF SHARED REALITY IT IS EASY TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO DISAGREE PRODUCTIVELY
suggests that such an about-face would require a willingness to “unfreeze” our entrenched positions that demonize the opinions of others, and often are based on narrow interests of one’s tribe or class (Keaveny, 2020). Following the notion of shared reality it is easy to understand how to disagree productively. Productive disagreement is defined as “an open exchange of conflicting or differing ideas in which parties feel equally heard, respected, and unafraid to voice dissenting opinions for the purpose of reaching a mutually comfortable resolution.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, unproductive conflict is described as “an argument, especially a repetitive one, without resolution, that leaves both parties feeling angrier and more frustrated.” Each of them is a form of conflict, but the result is very different, either leading to escalating tension and additional conflict or a resolution and a solution. It moves teams forward, drives successful businesses in the right direction, and creates solutions to big problems. According to Valentine (2020) it even helps us improve our personal lives by allowing us to confront each other in a constructive way, without the need for insults and bad blood. It lets people voice their opinions without taking things personally or letting a situation escalate negatively. Thus, to follow the advice from renowned communication experts that lies upon scientific researches of the psychological and communication mechanisms of human beings, let's start to debate in public constructively, respectfully, finding common grounds with our opponents to build a strong, reliable and healthy public discourse.
Mustafa Nadarević Passed Away Actor Mustafa Nadarević passed away at the age of 77 after a long and severe illness, the family confirmed to the media on Sunday. He left behind many unforgettable roles. During his long, rich artistic career, he has played more than 150 theatrical, film, character and television roles. He was born in Banja Luka in 1943, and graduated in acting in 1967 from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. He started his career at the Zagreb Youth Theater, and from 1969 until his retirement in 2011 he played his roles at the Zagreb CNT. He got his first big roles in domestic plays, je played Bogdan in “Hvarkinja”, Pomet in “Dundo Maroje”, Miletić in “Ostavka”, Leone in “Gospoda Glembajevi”, but he also in foreign playes (Lorenzacco in “Lorenzaccio”, Cyrano in “Cyrano de Bergerac”, Figaro in “Figaro se ženi i Figaro se rastaje”, M.P. Murphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”).
Publisher of the Oxford Dictionary Was Unable to Choose Word of the Year
Zagreb Soloists for Beethoven's 250th birthday Throughout 2020, all over the world, especially in Europe, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven is being celebrated in various ways. Therefore, in its 67th concert season, the Zagreb Soloists reached for the extraordinary work of the genius musician. Along with Beethoven's music, we could hear the legendary work 'Paintings at an Exhibition' by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky with a special arrangement for strings, all in spite of the pandemic. - As it usually is in the world, in Europe, not to mention America, we know everything. In Germany, where I live, everything has significantly come to a halt when it comes to culture. Here in Croatia, we, the Zagreb Soloists, play all the time, we have concerts, we are in demand, we were allowed to hold concerts in accordance with all the measures provided, and we play – which is fantastic for us, said Sreten Krstic, violinist, concertmaster of Zagreb Soloists.
This year, which they called an Unprecedented Year, Editors of the Oxford University Press, probably the most famous dictionary publisher in the world (Oxford Dictionaries), were unable to choose Word of the Year in accordance with their tradition. The list follows historic events that happened during this year, so the list included words and phrases such as "bush fires" that ravaged Australia, then the word "impeachment" (political procedure for recall, refutation) and "acquittal" (liberating verdict) that were more commonly used when the U.S. President Donald Trump faced problems in Congress. The coronavirus pandemic brought many words on the list: “lockdown", "circuit breaker" (short-term lockdown), "shelter-in-place" (official provision issued during a state of emergency advising people to stay in their home and not to leave it unless absolutely necessary), "remote/ly" (without physical contact) i "unmute" (turn the sound or device back on) - I have never before witnessed such a year in terms of language, stated Casper Grathwohl, President of Oxford Languages.
Awarded 28th Croatian Actor Awards 32
The Croatian Association of Drama Artists awarded traditional prizes for the best artistic achievements in television broadcast on HTV2. Laureates of the Croatian Actor Award for the overall artistic activity are director Ivica Boban for drama and opera singer Giorgio Surian for opera. The ceremony was held on November 24 in memory of the same date back in 1860, when actor Vilim Lesić standing on the stage of the National Theater on St. Mark's Square in Zagreb, after the interruption of the play in German and at the urging of Dimitri Demeter, said: As of today, plays will be performed only in Croatian language on the Zagreb stage.
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