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December 2020 | ISSUE No. 28 | ONLINE EDITION

18 DEC





Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property



The start of a new century, 21 years later


Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria


Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation


Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Malta

Spring in December Church and the struggle for the "defense of Christian values" that the socialism of pro-Soviet government of Wojciech Jeruzelski stifled and threatened. 29 years later, some other winds are blowing from Warsaw – the authorities claiming to inherit the legacy of the "Polish Spring" now prohibit abortion, spread hatred against the migrants and the LGBT population, and horrify most members of the “Old Europe” and the bureaucrats in Brussels with their “defense of Christian values”. Their like-minded people in Hungary say the same thing, except that they sometimes visit a raunchy party in Brussels.





Magazine Director Croatia boban@diplomacy andcommerce.hr


Art director indigochild.ilija@gmail.com


Designer designamites@gmail.com





t was Sunday, December 13th 1981. I remember it snowed when they published the news that General Jaruzelski declared a “state of war” in Poland, prohibited “Solidarity” and took tanks to the streets. The next year, Džoni Štulić


recorded the song “Proleće je 13. u decembru” (Spring is on the 13th of December) on this subject that marked our entire generation. In the 1980s, the entire “free world” celebrated the Polish fight for freedom, the Solidarity Union, Leh Valensa and other union leaders, Polish Pope John Paul II and everything that the “Polish Spring” brought us. We looked with affection on Poland's loyalty to the Roman Catholic




Predstavnik za RH





08 ”Color Media Communications” LTD, 21132 Petrovaradin, Štrosmajerova 3 TIN 107871532 Matriculation number 20887303 Phone: +381 21 4897 100 Fax: +381 21 4897 126 Office: Vase Čarapića 3/IV/38, Belgrade Phone: 011 4044 960

FOR MALTA, GLOBALIZATION IS NOT AN IDEOLOGY, IT IS A NECESSITY EVARIST BARTOLO Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Malta

12 CIP - Katalogizacija u publikaciji Biblioteke Matice Srpske, Novi Sad 33 Diplomacy & Commerce / glavni i odgovorni urednik Žikica Milošević, 2016, br. 1 (mart)-.Novi Sad: Color Media Communications, 2016 - , -33cm Mesečno. ISSN 2466-3808 = Diplomacy & Commerce COBISS.SR-ID 303269895



DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS A SAFE TRAVEL DESTINATION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC H.E. LOURDES VICTORIA-KRUSE Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria, and the Vienna Consular Section of the Dominican Republic in Vienna covers a total of eleven countries, including Croatia




THE END OF AN ERA By Nikica Miloš






THE ECONOMIST “SVIJET U 2021.” Conference




SPUTÑIK Regional music vaccine





Reconstruction After the Earthquake Will be a Generational Edeavour The reconstruction is further emphasized by the Long-Term Strategy for National Building Stock Renovation until 2050, which will at some point become an obligation prescribed by the European Commission, thus completing the entire story in this process

Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property

sidizing of housing loans, and about the development of communal economy in local self-government units.

hat we often emphasize when talking about reconstruction after the earthquake is that this will be a generational endeavour and one of potentially most fruitful periods of the construction industry, Darko Horvat, Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, states for Diplomacy&Commerce. We talked with the Minister also about the “National Development Strategy 2030”, sub-

After the mandate of the Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, mid-year you took over a new, equally challenging department, which includes physical planning, construction and state property. But the biggest emphasis in the coming years will certainly be on reconstruction after the earthquake. In what stage are currently the preparations for organized reconstruction, when




do you expect the works to start and where do you think there could be most problems? — When it comes to reconstruction of the City of Zagreb, Krapina-Zagorje County and Zagreb County, which were hit by the earthquake on that fatal morning of March 22, we need to point out that reconstruction of the buildings affected by the earthquake started immediately after the earthquake because already in April 2020, the Government of the Republic of Croatia has provided more than 100 million kuna in the state budget for emergency rehabilitation works. The public call

for financial assistance for temporary and necessary protection and repair of buildings damaged by the earthquake was published on June 10, 2020, and 1,939 applications have been received so far for the return of spent funds, requesting a refund in the amount of HRK 111.1 million, which is an indicator of what has already been done and implemented. These requirements related to urgent repairs of gable walls, roofs, chimneys, staircases and elevators. In addition, HRK 41 million was provided from the Fund for Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency for the purchase of condensing

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boilers. Due to all the above, we can say that many places where emergency interventions are underway or have already been completed are already visible in the field. After that, we entered the process of creating a legislative framework that is a prerequisite for organized reconstruction. So far, we have successfully implemented this by adopting the Law on Reconstruction and accompanying bylaws in the form of First Program of Measures and the Ordinance, which determine the specific necessary steps to start the reconstruction, as well as all the supporting documentation that needs to be collected in order to determine the rights and needs for repair of individual damages. What we are working on at the moment is the operationalization of the Reconstruction Fund, which will be an extension of the Ministry and it will implement the decisions on reconstruction made by the Ministry. When you create a completely new system on the basis of which the reconstruction will take place, of course challenges arise at every step, however, from my perspective, we are here with reason and responsibility to respond to these challenges in a transparent way, which I believe we did successfully so far, and we will continue on this path in the coming period. How much do you estimate that the entire reconstruction could last and how will it affect the development of the construction industry, as well as other supporting sectors in the country, and how much will it ultimately cost? — From the very beginning, we emphasized that reconstruction will be a lengthy process. We pointed this out to the citizens in advance so that they themselves would be ready for such longevity and so that they could start repairing what is urgent. Long-term works, which need to be done as part of the renovation of buildings, should be considered in a way that will seismically strengthen the structure of buildings, but at the same time will provide energy renovation where possible, so that ultimately buildings could have lower costs, which would consequently also mean lower costs for our citizens. The renovation is further emphasized by the Long-Term Strategy for National Building Stock

Renovation until 2050, which will at some point become an obligation prescribed by the European Commission, thus completing the whole story in this process. What we often emphasize when talking about the topic of earthquake reconstruction is that this will be a generational endeavor and one of potentially most fruitful periods of the construction industry. In the coming pe-

we have already managed to secure around HRK 12 billion from several different sources. Among other, these initial funds come from the EU Solidarity Fund, and there is also the World Bank loan of $200 million. In November, members of the European Parliament approved assistance to Croatia from the European Solidarity Fund for repairing the consequences of the earthquake in

IN THE FORTHCOMING PERIOD, THE MINISTRY PLANS TO DEVELOP CIRCULAR SPACE MANAGEMENT AND ESTABLISH GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE BUILDINGS IN URBAN AREAS OF CROATIA riod, there will be a lot of work for everyone - for builders, architects, electricians, machinists and representatives of other professions, as well as for all supporting industries that will certainly have to show effort and contribute to the fastest possible reconstruction. Why do I emphasize the term “organized renewal”? Because that is exactly our goal. That the renovation does not take place on the principle of one building in one block, but that in one operation we start with renovation of the entire block in order to reduce traffic jams and maximally simplify the daily life of our citizens during the entire renovation process. The estimated cost of renovating the damaged buildings is around HRK 42 billion, of which

the amount of EUR 683.7 million. These are funds that continue on the record advance from the European Solidarity Fund, through which we were already paid EUR 88.9 million in August. Although earthquake reconstruction will certainly be a major issue throughout the term, the Ministry also deals with a number of other topics of great importance to citizens. What would you single out as your priorities? — The Ministry’s Draft Plan for Legislative Activities for 2021 is currently in public consultation, according to which amendments to the Law on State Property Management and the Law on Management and Maintenance of Buildings are envisaged to be adopted

in the first quarter of next year, while amendments to the Law on renting apartments, the Construction Law and the Physical Planning Act are planned for the second and third quarter. Our priority is certainly the further development of Physical Planning Information System (ISPU) – a state-owned interoperable and multi-platform system for entry, verification, public announcement and exchange of spatial data. It was established with the aim of collecting spatial plans of all levels in one place, as well as data on spatial interventions, and to make these data available to citizens and professionals in order for them to be familiar with the situation with space and to speed up the process of issuing building permits. In this way, the investment procedure has been greatly facilitated for investors in terms of bureaucracy. Amendments to the Act on Housing Loan Subsidies are also important, they allowed for this demographic measure to continue to be implemented until the end of 2023, and when it comes to state property management, there are two things we will be emphasizing in the next mandate. On one hand, as someone coming from the economy sector, it is my wish to make all inactive assets available to entrepreneurs and give them the opportunity to take them over, renew them, use them, and in the long run buy them on favorable terms. Second, we will consider the option of selling all state-owned shares in companies where the state has no influence when it comes to making business decisions. Most of the things you mentioned are also the contribution of your Ministry to development of the "National Development Strategy 2030", as the umbrella strategic document for the decade ahead, which has been sent to public discussion. It is obvious that quite ambitious goals have been set, so what specific proposals and measures from your department would you single out for their realization? — These are certainly the development of green infrastructure and circular management of space and buildings. A sustainable growth strategy for a climate-neutral and green Europe that seeks to transform the EU into a prosperous society with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive


economy, free of net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, where economic growth won’t be linked to resource consumption, is the cornerstone of the European Green Deal. In order to contribute to the achievement of these goals, the Ministry, in cooperation with the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb, is preparing a Program for the development of circular management of space and buildings for the period from 2021 to 2030. Priorities of the Program include the revitalization of unused spaces and buildings and guidelines for planning new buildings according to the circular economy model, and measures are aimed at increasing the durability and lifespan of buildings in space, increasing energy efficiency and reducing construction waste for sustainable development. Likewise, green infrastructure, which seeks to improve the quality of life in urban areas through integrated, coordinated and sustainable solutions to urban issues, is recognized as an extremely important aspect of urban development. Therefore, in the forthcoming period, the Ministry plans to develop circular space management and establish green infrastructure buildings in urban areas of Croatia, preserve existing resources, contribute to sustainable development and strengthen resilience to climate change and reduce waste generation and improve space efficiency. You also mentioned the subsidies for housing loans, and this measure was recognized as successful and quality measure by the citizens, especially among young families. Recent amendments to the law extended the deadline for announcing public calls has also been extended, so when is it realistic to expect a new call? — After the interested and professional public had the opportunity to give their opinion, proposals and remarks at the Public Discussion, on December 9th, the Government adopted the draft law on Amendments to the Housing Loan Subsidy Act. Amendments to the old Act were necessary, especially because it did not provide for implementation of this strong demographic renewal measure after 2020. This deadline has now been changed, so the Croatia Real Estate Agency (APN) will be able to


issue new public calls for subsidies by the end of 2023. The 2021 State Budget of the Republic of Croatia has set aside HRK 263.5 million for this purpose, of which 50 million is allocated for new subsidies to be approved in 2021. For 2022 and 2023, an additional HRK 50 million per year has been provided. The subsidizing of housing loans is a housing program within which the state, i.e. the rele-

ditional subsidies are granted as for household members, and the deadline within which loan beneficiaries and household members are required to have registered residence has been set as well. Recently, in the very north of Croatia, more precisely in Mursko Središće, you handed over contracts for communal development projects to local self-government units and announced

el of public services and higher quality of life of residents in the area of a particular unit of local self-government. 397 local self-government units submitted their project proposals, with a total value of more than HRK 371 million. The Ministry was asked to co-finance their implementation with the sum of HRK 120.2 million, and in 2020 a total of 191 projects is being co-financed, for which we have provided more than HRK 26 million in the State Budget. Given that these projects provide strong support to local governments, we plan to continue the implementation of this activity in 2021. An unavoidable topic this year is certainly the COVID-19 pandemic and the great need to help the economy and maintain business activity. What measures has your Ministry adopted to help entrepreneurs, and thus their workers as well? — At the suggestion of our department, on 3rd of December the Government of the Republic of Croatia passed a Decision on releasing the obligation to pay rent and write-off of receivables for the use of business premises owned by the Republic of Croatia for tenants and users of business premises who could not work in accordance with the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia. This deci-

THE ESTIMATED COST OF RENOVATING THE DAMAGED BUILDINGS IS AROUND HRK 42 BILLION, OF WHICH WE HAVE ALREADY MANAGED TO SECURE AROUND HRK 12 BILLION FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT SOURCES vant Ministry and APN help to repay part of the housing loan when buying an apartment or house, or when repaying a loan to build a house for a period of five years. The success of the implementation of this measure is best illustrated by the fact that in the past four years over 17,000 subsidized loans have been approved, and more than 2,000 children have been born in families that use subsidies. All this is a good indicator to the Ministry and the Government that we are going in the right direction, and that we should continue with the subsidies in the coming years. These amendments also made it clearer that loan subsidies shall not be granted to applicants who have exercised this right earlier, and defined in detail the status of minor children for whom ad-

the co-financing of such projects for 2021. What is the main purpose of this project and what are the conditions for obtaining the support of the Ministry? — Communal development projects are co-financed based on the Public Call for co-financing projects of cities and municipalities to encourage the development of communal economy and the harmonization of communal standards. This call, which defines the conditions for application, was announced by the Ministry at the beginning of this year with the aim of providing financial support for projects of local self-government units that encourage or contribute to better performance of communal activities and delivery of utility services, as well as for activities in projects that will contribute to raising the lev-

sion also provides an exemption from the obligation to pay rent for users of state-owned business premises who have had a drop in income and which are managed by this Ministry and the company Državne nekretnine d.o.o., provided that they have retained workers. The decision refers to the period from 1 December 2020 until the Decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia are in force. Throughout this period, we have the priority of reducing the daily incidence of coronavirus infection. This is necessary to protect the safety and health of our citizens. But that is precisely why it is important that we, as the Government, make decisions like this, which will ultimately contribute to a faster economic recovery and job retention.

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Why Democracy Failed in the Middle East And how it might, one day, succeed hat kind of repression do you imagine it takes for a young man to do this?” So asked Leila Bouazizi after her brother, Muhammad, set himself on fire ten years ago. Local officials in Tunisia had confiscated his fruit cart, ostensibly because he did not have a permit but really because they wanted to extort money from him. It was the final indignity for the young man. “How do you expect me to make a living?” he shouted before dousing himself with petrol in front of the governor’s office. His actions would resonate across the region, where millions of others had reached breaking-point, too. Their rage against oppressive leaders and corrupt states came bursting forth as the Arab spring. Uprisings toppled the dictators of four countries— Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. For a moment it seemed as if democracy had arrived in the Arab world at last. A decade later, though, no celebrations are planned. Only one of those democratic experiments yielded a durable result—fittingly, in Bouazizi’s Tunisia. Egypt’s failed miserably, ending in a military coup. Libya, Yemen and, worst of all, Syria descended into bloody civil wars that drew in foreign powers. The Arab spring turned to bitter winter so quickly that many people now despair of the region. Much has changed there since, but not for the better. The Arab world’s despots are far from secure. With oil prices low, even petro-potentates can no longer afford to buy their subjects off with fat subsidies and cushy government jobs. Many leaders have grown more paranoid and oppressive. Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia locks up his own relatives. Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has stifled the press and crushed civil society. One lesson autocrats learned from the Arab spring is that any flicker of dissent must be snuffed out fast, lest it spread. The region is less free than it was in 2010—and perhaps more


THE REGION IS LESS FREE THAN IT WAS IN 2010—AND PERHAPS MORE ANGRY angry. It has been shaken by wars, jihad, refugees and covid-19. Activists contend that Arabs are no longer willing to put up with the same old misery, and say they are more confident that they can bring about change. The Arab spring’s flame never completely went out, says one. No fancy name was given to the swathe of protests that engulfed Arab countries in 2019, yet they pushed out as many leaders as those of the Arab spring. Unfortunately, the states that were jolted in 2019—Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan—are faring only a little better than those convulsed by the Arab spring. Could it be true, as some argue, that Arabs simply cannot abide democracy? Some lament that the region’s generals are too politically entrenched to allow a real opening. Others say that austere local strains of Islam are incompatible with pluralism. Is Tunisia, blessed with pragmatic Islamists and generals who have apparently learned

to obey elected politicians, the exception that proves the rule? It is too early to say. The seeds of modern democracy have yet to be properly sown in the Arab world. The thirst among Arab citizens to choose their own rulers is as strong as it is elsewhere. What they need most is for independent institutions—universities, the media, civic groups, above all the courts and the mosques—to evolve without being in thrall to government. Only then can space be found for an engaged and informed citizenry. Only then are people likely to accept that political disputes can be resolved peacefully. It would help if Arabs had more freedom to debate. Schools in the region tend to emphasise rote learning over critical thinking. The media and the mosques tend to parrot the government line. Autocrats seek to co-opt social media, too. All this breeds distrust in information itself. Conspiracy theories abound. Arabs tend to mistrust not only their governments

but also each other, thanks in part to a system that requires bribes and wasta, or connections, to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. Corruption undermines confidence in the state. Few expect it to provide for the common good. Despots encourage people to think of politics in zero-sum terms: if another group wins power, they will grab all the money and public jobs. Opponents are portrayed as extremists who wish their fellow countrymen dead. In such parched soil, it is unsurprising that democracy failed to take root. But there are ways, in the long run, to fertilise it. Promoting education is vital. Democracies should welcome more Arab students. They should also speak up for Arab journalists, human-rights campaigners and NGOs. A culture of pluralism takes time to grow. But the status quo is unstable and unsustainable, as a frustrated fruit-seller tragically demonstrated. From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com



by Svetlana Nenadović-Glušac, D&C Austria

For Malta, Globalization is Not an Ideology, it is a Necessity We have one of the most open economies in the world as our home market, with fewer than 500,000 people, is too small to generate wealth and support job creation

EVARIST BARTOLO Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Malta

he Maltese Foreign Minister, H.E. Evarist Bartolo, was to pay an official visit to Austria in early November. However, the unfavourable evolution of the pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus made this visit impossible and his visit was postponed indefinitely. For the new edition of the Diplomacy and Commerce Austria magazine we conducted an exclusive interview with the respected minister Evarist Bartolo and discussed current issues such as diplomacy in the Corona era, terrorism, the so-called "golden passports", Malta's official position on the issue of the migration crisis, and whether pandemic has had a profound impact on the Maltese economy and thus tourism.


Dear Minister, you should have attended the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) conference in Vienna at the beginning of November. Due to the situation with the rapid spread of the COV-Sars2 virus, the conference and your arrival in Vienna have been postponed. How does this pandemic situation affect the work in international relations? — The inability to travel and meet face to face is a set back for diplomacy. Videoconferences are a poor substitute to meetings in person. Most of the videoconferences I have taken part in in the last 10 months have been a series of monologues, you do your bit and switch off and carry on with the work that you have even if you are still visible online.


WHILE MALTA IS A TINY POINT IN THE CENTRAL MEDITERRANEAN, THE WORLD IS A TINY BLUE POINT IN THE UNIVERSE. MOST PROBLEMS CANNOT BE ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED BY ANY COUNTRY ALONE Physical meetings are important to build trust with a person to understand each other better and communicate beyond public and official positions which are often sanitised and more of the same. I feel we need such meetings especially in this period where there is so much polarisation in the world and it is as if we have gone back to trench warfare of World War 1. It is as if we have lost the appetite for patient and persevering diplomacy where calls for

dialogue, de-escalation and negotiation are interpreted as naïve. I also think that defence ministries and the burgeoning presence of the military industrial complex, the most profitable economic sector in some countries are playing a disproportionate role in relations among states, seeking to increase arms exports rather than looking genuinely for compromise and conflict resolution, peace and stability.

On the day you were supposed to arrive in Austria for an official visit, there was a terrorist attack in Vienna. Should the issue of terrorism be part of the OSCE conference? — Yes, I think that terrorism should be part of the OSCE conference. We should not consider terrorism just a security and law enforcement issue as this leads to a further militarisation of life and of relations among states. We must fight terrorism. As Che

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Guevara says: “terrorism … is generally ineffective and indiscriminate in its results, since it often makes victims of innocent people and destroys a large number of lives …” We must also address the causes of terrorism: poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, injustice, human rights abuses, brutal military conflicts that lead to failed states, the institutional repression of minorities … this does not mean that terrorists are always the victims of injustice but there is no doubt that terrorism thrives and provides recruits among persons who have nothing to lose. So political, social, economic and cultural measures are required to develop and implement a scorched earth policy around terrorist organizations. We must promote the dialogue of religions and the alliance of civilizations and must not fight religious fanaticism and fundamentalism with secular fanaticism. We need to promote the culture of the universal declaration of human rights that is needed today and tomorrow as much as it was needed 75 years ago. We must keep on making it clear that promoting a global human rights culture cannot be dismissed as interference in internal affairs.

We are one world and a common human family. We should feel the pain and suffering of every person, whoever, wherever that person is. The best way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations is to commit ourselves to this declaration and work to make these human rights happen everywhere in today’s world. During your stay in Vienna you were going to deliver a lecture on the subject of "Being small in a big world. Are we all small?" Will you let us know which thesis you intended to propose in your presentation?

Melos: give in. You are small. It is not what you want that counts. But what we want. The strong do what they want. The weak have to bow to their will. Melos still didn’t give in. Athens invaded the island. She won. All the men were killed. The women and children were taken slaves. The way Athens treated Melos is still cited as an example of how big countries treat smaller ones. Either gruffly or with kind words they say: you are small. It is not what you want that counts. But what we want. The strong do what they like. The weak have to bow to their will. The weak find many who will preach to them.

SMALL ISLANDS LIKE MALTA NEED SCHEMES THAT ATTRACT INVESTORS WHICH INCLUDE GRANTING THEM CITIZENSHIP — 2436 years ago, Athens and Sparta were at war. Athens invaded the small island of Melos (about three times the size of Gozo). It wanted to use Melos’ port for its galleys. The people of Melos protested. They wished to remain neutral and to live in peace: both with Athens and with Sparta. But Athens had other ideas. It said to

Those who investigate them. Those who accuse them. Those who condemn them. They find far fewer who will help them. As far as responsibilities, international obligations, laws and conventions are concerned … small countries are expected to abide by them as much as big ones. When it comes to solidarity, when the weak expect to be

helped by the strong, they are left to fend for themselves. Does that mean that the weak should accept everything? Or should they defend their country and their interests as best they can? “ ... you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Thucydides The History of the Peloponnesian War Melian Dialogue. While Malta is a tiny dot in the Central Mediterranean, the world is a tiny blue dot in the universe. Most of the problems that we face cannot be addressed adequately by any one country alone: the climate emergency, pandemics, the debt crisis, Post-Covid economic recovery, international organized crime, terrorism, irregular migration, technological disruption, conflicts among neighbouring countries ... all countries are small when they are dealing with these big challenges and we must work together to face them successfully. Last month the EU Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Malta and Cyprus. It is about the so-called “golden passports” for the issuance of citizenships against financial

Valletta / Photo: Malta Tourist Organization


commitments, what is the official position of the Republic of Malta about this procedure? — Small islands like Malta that are constrained by a lot of disadvantages and have a very limited range of economic sectors that they can develop, need schemes that attract investors which include granting them citizenship. But in running these schemes we must take all the necessary measures not to let them be used for money laundering and to hide the proceeds of economic crimes committed in other countries. We have taken new measures to tighten our scheme and will insist with the European Commission that the granting of citizenship is a national competence and we will not cede our sovereignty. What is the official position of Malta on the issue of the migration crisis, particularly that from the Central Mediterranean route? — We are the smallest and most densely populated country in the European Union. We are also the most vulnerable as we are right in the middle of the Central Mediterranean migratory route where departures from Libya and Tunisia have more than trebled this year. We do not have the carrying capacity to take in more irregular migrants and becoming a migrant reception centre for Europe will destroy our economy and livelihood for our people. Everyone tells us that we must not be allowed to carry our this burden on our own. Yet this is what often happens. Relocation has helped a bit but has certainly not solved our problems. In 15 years, our European Union partners took 8% only of our arrivals. The difficult times we are in: Covid-19 and suffering, anxiety and economic uncertainty it has brought with it and the prevailing mood of European voters are making it more difficult for our European partners to take their share of irregular migrants that reach our shores. As human traffickers continue to send more migrant boats from North Africa towards Europe, we are caught between two extremes which we both reject: let them drown and let them all in. We do not want to do either. But we have no alternative to cooperate with Libya to intercept and take back the boats of irregular migrants. This year we have had over two thousand irregular migrants coming to Malta. Propor-


THE BEST WAY TO CELEBRATE THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNITED NATIONS IS TO COMMIT OURSELVES TO THIS DECLARATION AND WORK TO MAKE THESE HUMAN RIGHTS HAPPEN EVERYWHERE IN TODAY’S WORLD tionately, that is the equivalent of two million arriving in the European Union. Without the help of Libya, over 9,000 would have arrived and it would be a huge crisis and emergency for us, which we cannot allow to happen. We understand that irregular migration is a complex problem and those who provide simple solutions are not realistic. First of all half of those who come to Malta are not eligible for asylum. While we need to have safe and regular migration, we must do all we can to stop irregular migration and send irregular migrants back to where they came from. And we need to help each other to do that as quickly as possible. We know that the other side of irregular migration is joblessness. We need to engage economically with the countries of origin and have terms of trade that allows them to create wealth and jobs so that young people work in countries where they are born. We must allow these countries of origin to move into manufacturing and services. We need to help transit countries manage their borders better to prevent the human traffickers from carrying out

their criminal business. We need to take on and attack and bring to justice the human traffickers wherever they are. We must ensure that the centres where irregular migrants are kept till their applications are processed are centres where all the persons are treated humanely. Relocation remains essential for those who deserve protection and asylum. People having to leave their country is a symptom of bigger problems: unemployment, wars, persecutions, corruption, illicit financial flows from Africa, bad governance, climate change, injustice … treating the symptom without addressing the causes is very short sighted and it is just like putting our finger in the dyke. Malta not only attracts with its history, culture and nature, it is also an attractive year-round travel destination for continental Europeans. Has the pandemic reduced the number of visits to Malta this year and is Malta ready for a "new normal" in tourism? — The pandemic has hurt us a lot as up to 30% of our economy is directly or indirectly relat-

ed to tourism so our income from tourism this year will be down by around 75%. We have the economic sectors that are most exposed to the economic impact of the pandemic. This has not led to thousands of unemployed and families have slipped into poverty because we have taken strong measures to subsidise wages and to transfer money to families to generate consumption and domestic trade. We have one of the most open economies in the world as our domestic market of less than 500,000 people is too small to support wealth and job creation. For us globalization is not an ideology, it is a necessity. We will only survive and thrive if we manage to sell out services and products to as many different countries as possible. There are as many Maltese in the rest of the world as there are in Malta as thousands of Maltese had to emigrate to look for a job. This trend has been reversed. We have the lowest birth rate in Europe. We were creating 11,000 jobs a year of which the Maltese could fill only 4,000 while the remaining 7,000 had to come from overseas.

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Dangerous Climate Change is the Biggest Threat People all seem to be aware of the changing climate H.E. ANDREW STUART DALGLEISH UK Ambassador to Croatia

he climate is already changing – we can see it happening – the question is whether WE are all prepared to make the changes to our lifestyles to limit the damage done by the changes WE are making to the climate, says H.E Andrew Stuart Dalgleish UK Ambassador to Croatia. For the holiday edition of Diplomacy & Commerce magazine, we talked with the ambassador about Brexit, Covid 19, but also about the excellent relations between Croatia and the UK.


End of the year is also the end of a one-year phase when Bexit should end? How much will the final separation from the EU affect the lives of ordinary citizens? What changes and what stays the same (studies, work, travel…)? — It is natural to expect that the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union will bring about change. Both Croatia and the UK have made it clear that they still want to make it easy for visitors to travel between our two countries, enjoy our great cultures, landscapes, food and weather (well, Croatian weather anyway). People travelling on holiday won’t see much of a difference. Those wishing to travel for work or study will find that there are new processes they need to engage with. The UK will remain a fantastic place to do business and, with its world-class universities, an ideal destination for top students wishing to excel. Where and how can we get informed about all the changes that will occur as of January 01, 2021? — As always, the internet is the best place to look – British citizens should keep an eye on our “Living In Croatia” guide and the advice on our gov.uk website;


BOTH CROATIA AND THE UK HAVE MADE IT CLEAR THAT THEY STILL WANT TO MAKE IT EASY FOR VISITORS TO TRAVEL BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES those pages contain all the information needed for those living in and travelling to Croatia and they are being constantly updated. For those wishing to go to the UK, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website, and the Croatian Embassy in the United Kingdom are the best sources of information. When we talk about relations between the UK and Croatia, how do you assess them and where there is room for improvement? How much will Brexit affect the politics in this direction? Will it be necessary to trans-

fer everything to bilateral relations or will it remain within the community? — Bilateral relations are excellent. It’s the job of every diplomat to say that. But in this case it really is true. Take a look at our joint work on defence issues (through NATO, but also through the bilateral programmes and events we have in place with our land, sea, air and special forces) – Croatia is a very special partner of the United Kingdom. But we also work together on the ‘softer’ yet hugely important issues such as education: We have shared our experiences of developing a new

curriculum, providing training experiences through the British Council. Our countries’ innovative, IT brains have recognised each other’s abilities and are working together – exactly on 31 January, the date when we formally left the EU, a Croatian smart benches company Include opened its office in London. Infobip’s European headquarters has been in London for some time now. Our cultural connection is deep, with British humour and TV comedy being much appreciated in Croatia, and Croatian sporting superiority being much regretted in the UK… Personally, I believe that trying to express our relationship purely through the prism of EU membership is to limit it. We were bilateral (non-EU) partners for many more years than we have been together in the EU. Seeing each other in Council meetings in

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Brussels could be great. But seeing each other directly, one-onone rather than as a large crowd, might be even better. Let’s see what we can do together to move our relationship forward on a different plane. The COVID 19 pandemic has affected the lives of us all. When talking about the Embassy’s plans and development of relations between the two countries, what can you announce for the next year? — Trying to predict anything at the moment is, thanks to Covid, extremely difficult! But the work that British laboratories and pharmaceutical companies have done to develop solutions to the pandemic has been absolutely outstanding. It’s fantastic to see that one of the early recipients of the vaccine in the UK was a Croatian citizen – Zlatan Ibadžić from Sisak, who works in the Nottingham City Hospital. Croatia has produced world-leading scientists and epidemiologists, some of whom like Kristijan Ramadan and my friend Igor Rudan are at work in the UK - I’ve seen them engaging in Croatian efforts to battle COVID-19 too. We have a lot to share and to offer each other. My Embassy will be looking at how to combat the disinformation and invented stories on the internet about both COVID-19 and the dangers of vaccines. It’s so important that we listen to the scientists – like the Croatian government, the British government and my Embassy will be working to explain why taking the vaccine is not just good for you as an individual, but good for society as a whole. Even if we can’t foresee how 2021 will turn out, we can be confident that the work we’re able to do together on tackling this pandemic will make a difference. Apart from that, we will be trading with each other on different terms than we did last year. There is still a massive amount

IT’S FANTASTIC TO SEE THAT ONE OF THE EARLY RECIPIENTS OF THE VACCINE IN THE UK WAS A CROATIAN CITIZEN – ZLATAN IBADŽIĆ FROM SISAK, WHO WORKS IN THE NOTTINGHAM CITY HOSPITAL of potential growth in our trade relationship. But lots of business we can do together in a wide range of sectors. Building Back Better is a call to action following the economic damage done by Covid19. This is a chance for the global economy to re-evaluate how it does business. We will be building partnerships between cities in Croatia and the UK who are interested in exploring the benefits of operating a Smart City model – reducing their energy consumption, their carbon emissions, improving their waste management and their water consumption – so much to learn from each other. As much as we are occupied with COVID-19 at the moment, I’m sure both the UK and Croatia want to emerge

from the corona crisis into a healthier world. You pay close attention to climate change. A Panel on climate change was held recently, in which you participated. What was in focus, what is the message and what has to be done as soon as possible? — Dangerous climate change is the biggest threat to life on our planet. It is caused by human activity and it is happening faster than any climate change that has ever been seen before – so fast that nature will not be able to evolve rapidly enough to adapt to it. The focus of the panel was to articulate the threat; and to identify the actions that we are able to take to manage that threat. The

climate is already changing – we can see it happening – the question is whether WE are all prepared to make the changes to our lifestyles to limit the damage done by the changes WE are making to the climate. Understanding where the greenhouse gas emissions come from, how we are depleting nature’s ability to absorb those emissions, and what we can do to make a different ourselves on a personal level is the key message. Preventing dangerous climate change is going to impose a cost on us; but that is a far lower cost than that our children and grandchildren will have to pay as they try to adapt to the climate change that we and our parents have caused. We can make a difference. But we have to act now.

AWARENESS Do you think that people's consciousness is at a high enough level when it comes to climate change or is it still at the level of "abstract" and "distant" for most? — People all seem to be aware of the changing climate. There are those that are wilfully choosing not to see it. And there are those that see it and say that ‘it’s natural, the climate has always changed’ – they aren’t listening to what science knows about how the climate has changed in the past. So the reality of climate change is there and present in all reasonable people’s consciousness. Where there is a gap is in the readiness of each individual to do something about it. That something can be the way they vote – to elect governments who are committed to tackling the problem. Or the way they shop – to buy products that are carbon neutral, or that don’t produce waste. To change their diet – not to stop eating meat, necessarily, but to cut down their consumption of this significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The list goes on. I believe in the basic goodness of humans – they tend to want to do the right thing.



by Svetlana Nenadović-Glušac, D&C Austria

Dominican Republic is a Safe Travel Destination During the COVID-19 Pandemic This tourism revitalization plan includes measures that no country in the region currently has H.E. LOURDES VICTORIA-KRUSE Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria, and the Vienna Consular Section of the Dominican Republic in Vienna covers a total of eleven countries, including Croatia

or the new issue of Diplomacy and Commerce Austria Magazine, we spoke to H.E. Lourdes Victoria-Kruse, Ambassador of the Dominican Re-



public to the Republic of Austria and Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the international organizations in Vienna. Ambassador Victoria-Kruse is also an accredited ambassador to Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary and

Bulgaria, and the Vienna Consular Section of the Dominican Republic in Vienna covers a total of eleven countries, including Croatia. We spoke to the esteemed Ambassador about the recent elections in the Dominican Republic, the plans of the new govern-

ment, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, what it is like to be a woman and a diplomat in charge of several countries, as well about the upcoming tourist season in one of the favorite travel destinations of Europeans in the winter months


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Elections were recently held in the Dominican Republic - as they have changed, how will they affect your country's foreign policy? — Indeed, on August 16, Luis Abinader Corona took over the presidency of the Dominican Republic and entrusted the leadership of Dominican foreign policy to the current Foreign Minister, Mr Roberto Álvarez. This new administration has structured an important plan, entitled "A Foreign Policy in the Government of Change", which aims to reorganize, professionalize and modernize the country's foreign policy. In this regard, this proposal is based on three main objectives: the first, the protection of Dominican women and men abroad; the second, boosting exports and attracting investment to create the 600,000 jobs President Abinader had promised before the pandemic broke out; and third, the promotion of democratic values and human rights enshrined in the Dominican constitution. With this plan we have reaf-

firmed our strong commitment to strengthening Dominican foreign policy. With regard to our relations with Europe, we endeavor to strengthen our relations through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an efficient and transparent manner so that we can further promote the bilateral relations and trade agreements already agreed. Europe continues to be one of the most important links for our country, given the relevance of the multiple contexts that bind us together - from the economic sector to trade, cooperation, culture, migration, politics, development and security. Therefore, from now on we will permanently strive to create more security and trust for European investments in our country and to implement appropriate initiatives that effectively contribute to freeing the productive forces of the Dominican export sector. With regard to international trade, for example, we want to take advantage of the large markets to which we have preferential access, as well as the destinations which, due to their size

and demand, have greater potential for our exports. Recently, the Trade Promotion Plan 2021 was launched, which aims to optimize the trade promotion service and attract investment with the support of the country's diplomatic and consular corps accredited abroad. The aim is to strengthen cooperation with the national and international private sector to develop coherent plans to encourage direct private investment and exports, create large numbers of jobs and reduce the trade deficit. Export is now one of the main axes for the recovery of our economy. Furthermore, with regard to economic affairs and international cooperation, we propose the adoption of a regulation to define, direct and manage trade negotiations and non-refundable international cooperation. On the other hand, we intend to redouble our efforts to take advantage of the Dominican Republic's privileged geographic location in the center of the Caribbean and the Americas, by working

with all the authorities involved in creating our national brand, as well as adopting an innovative one public policies that will promote the sustainable growth of our economy through job creation, new direct investment and a significant increase in tourism flows. As part of this strategy, we envisage the development of a cultural policy that will contribute to the achievement of the country's goals abroad by highlighting the values and traditions that characterize Dominican society. Your deeply emotional speech at the United Nations in Vienna is still spoken of today about the Mirabal sisters, who were opponents of the dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo and three of whom died in 1960 and thus became symbols of the rebellion. What is your opinion, what is the position of women in today's society and is it difficult to be a woman, a mother and a diplomat at the same time? — It was a very emotional mo-


and what measures the Dominican Republic has taken to ensure the safety of tourists during a pandemic.


OUR AUTHORITIES ALWAYS ADHERE TO THE GUIDELINES OF THE WHO AND THEIR STRATEGIC PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE PLAN AND IMMEDIATELY INTEGRATE THEM INTO THE NATIONAL RESPONSE PLAN ment indeed, and it shouldn't be less. The Mirabal Sisters are arguably one of the most significant symbols of popular and feminist resistance worldwide, and this makes all Dominican women proud. In today's society it is obvious that more and more women are occupying management and decision-making positions. We have integrated into our consciousness the values related to the new role that we have to play in society: integrate ourselves into professional life, climb the hierarchical work structure, take on the responsibility of the house and raise our children without neglecting our own well-being. That brings me to the second part of your question. It is certainly a challenge to reconcile the roles of woman, mother and diplomat, but in my opinion it is precisely this ability to multitask that allows us to structure pragmatic and innovative solutions to the challenges of everyday life. We are talking about a new generation of active and autonomous women who are exposed to


very different realities depending on the culture, geographical area or social situation in which they find themselves. However, we must not forget that despite the progress we have made in decades of fighting for our rights, there is still a long way to go. We are still in a situation of inequality in areas such as politics, education and work. In this regard, I fully identify with the statement by Ursula Plannick, the former Austrian Foreign Minister, that we must continue to work actively to ensure that women in all areas have access to management positions so that they can fully exploit their potential and skills. You are an accredited ambassador to Austria, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria and you are also the representative of the Dominican Republic to all international organizations at the United Nations in Vienna. The Vienna consular section covers eleven countries, including Croatia. How do you do it all? — The answer to your question is

very simple. I am an active person with a positive attitude, but the key to our success lies in the team of people who accompany me: They are very capable and above all committed professionals. The new corona virus pandemic has impacted the daily lives of all of us for months, we have a new "normal" and it has brought almost all the world's economies to their knees. What is the current situation in the Dominican Republic and will the consequences of the pandemic leave deep marks? — The Dominican Republic has dedicated itself above all to protecting the life and health of its citizens at home and abroad and has mitigated the economic impact with various initiatives. We have set an example in the region in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). Indeed, WHO stressed that the country reflected the increased commitment to political leadership, collaboration and partner-

ship between the public and private sectors, with the emphasis of its actions on strengthening liaison identification, surveillance and prevention and action Containment of infection lies. This background has led to a systematic reduction in the number of infections and to the preservation of our health system, which has never collapsed during these months. This enabled us to come up with a plan to revitalize responsible tourism that will involve a large public investment. Our authorities always adhere to the guidelines of the WHO and their Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan and immediately integrate them into the national response plan. Of course, a pandemic on the order of Covid-19 will have a negative impact on all economies in the world, but I can assure you that our authorities are working tirelessly to counter such effects and get back on the path of economic growth in the shortest possible time. Indeed, thanks to its diversification - tourism, remittances and free zones - our economies have not suffered as much damage as others in countries similar to ours. Tourism is one of the most developed industries in the Dominican Republic. How do your experts predict the pandemic will leave its mark on tourism? — The cumulative tourist flow for the period January-September 2020 was 1,743,480 non-resident visitors, i.e. 3,244,218 fewer travelers (-65.0%) than in the same period of the previous year. The significant decline in the accumulated influx of tourists in 2020 is explained by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated prevention and containment measures, which include border closings and restrictions on non-essential travel in both the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Republic in the second quarter of the year also in the most important tourist destinations worldwide. Elements that paralyzed the flow of passengers to and from the Dominican Republic. As for the expectations for the coming months, the arrival behavior of non-resident passengers in the Dominican Republic will be determined mainly by the global development of the pandemic and the availability of an effective vaccine against the coro-

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Malecón Santo Domingo / Photo: Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic

navirus, as well as by the provisions of the September executive together with the Tourism Council announced reconstruction plan.These include implementing health security protocols in accommodation establishments, tax breaks, monetary and financial measures to make the growth of small and medium-sized tourism businesses viable, and assigning a temporary travel assistance plan with emergency health insurance, telemedicine, flight changes and extended stays in the event of COVID- 19 infection. Likewise, an incentive plan for domestic tourism will stimulate the local market, which includes discounts of 20% to 50% in establishments of major hotel chains and financing options of 6 to 12 months. It is important to highlight that the arrival of passengers shows an incipient bias towards recovery after the airports reopen, as the proportion of non-resident foreigners who visited the country in September was 18.7% of the total for the same month last year and was thus above the shares of 11.5% and 12.6% recorded in July and August with respect to the same reference periods of 2019. Given that the Dominican Republic is one of the most popular travel destinations for Europeans during the winter months, as the new season begins, many will be interested to see whether laws and regulations have been passed in the fight against Covid-19 that ensure a safe vacation

OUR COUNTRY HAS A PLAN TO RESTORE TOURISM WITH A FOCUS ON HEALTH SECURITY, ANNOUNCED BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, MR. LUIS ABINADER CORONA to the exotic guarantee Dominican beaches? — Our country has a plan to restore tourism with a focus on health security, announced by His Excellency the President of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Luis Abinader Corona, which came into effect on September 15th. The Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs has this documentation. This plan includes a number of measures and initiatives to address the challenges facing the tourism industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure that the Dominican Republic is a safe travel destination that further protects the health, well-being and

safety of tourists to demand a sustainable revitalization of the tourism sector. The aim is to minimize the impact of the pandemic and enable responsible recovery that puts health first, maximizes the potential for job creation and economic growth, and furthermore promotes greater sustainable development in the sector and ensures that the Dominican Republic continues to be the number one destination in the region for international travelers, be it for vacation, business travel, investment opportunities or returning to a second home, to name a few. These measures include new internationally certified health

protocols and apply to the entire industry, including restaurants and bars. This tourism revitalization plan includes measures that no country in the region currently has. Measures include: • Perform rapid tests on randomly selected travelers upon arrival, such as the diagnostic breath test for COVID-19, eliminating the need for a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival • Social distancing and the use of masks will be mandatory during the visitor's stay. • All tourists visiting a hotel are temporarily granted a travel assistance plan that includes coverage for emergencies, telemedi-

cine, accommodation for longer stays and costs for flight changes in the event of infection. This insurance is made available to the visitor free of charge until December 2020 and is 100% paid for by the Dominican State. • A sanitary bladder will be introduced to ensure that hotel workers stay in the facilities as long as possible. Facilities will implement effective health management with suppliers, contractors and employees. The latter are tested periodically and follow a specific protocol for entering and exiting the facilities. • The work regulations are adapted in order to minimize and reduce the risks for employees. This protocol has been certified by the Bureau Veritas of the World Travel and Tourism Council and is in the process of being certified by Safe Travels, both of the world's leading certification bodies in the sector.



The Biggest Challenge is to Maintain and Develop Business Activities During the Pandemic With the Croatian accession to the EU, Croatian exports to EU countries grew strongly, but imports increased as well ZDENKO LUCIĆ Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

n the first half of the year, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, together with our embassies and consulates, besides the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, was focused on helping companies and business associations to cope with new circumstances says Zdenko Lucić Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The main goal in the coming period is to achieve a better trade balance. When we talk about tourism the Croatian Government has already begun preparations for the next tourist season by giving further financial support in order to save companies and jobs says Lucić.


At the time of the pandemic and lockdown, it seems that it has never been more difficult to establish cooperation between countries, especially in the field of economy. How much has the COVID 19 pandemic affected your work and can we somehow summarize 2020? — The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed all the aspects of our working environment. For almost a year, we have been dealing not only with a public health emergency, but as well with an economic, social and humanitarian crisis. Suspension or reduction of economic activities and closing borders in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have caused a number of difficulties for all of us. However, this crisis has shown that solidarity and cooperation among countries in all areas are crucial in this fight against the pandemic. In the first half of the year, the Ministry of Foreign and European


DESPITE THE CURRENT WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC IN EUROPE, THE RECOVERY OF SOME ECONOMIES IS NOTICEABLE Affairs, together with our embassies and consulates, was focused on helping companies and business associations to cope with new circumstances. We were dealing with the repatriation of workers and the facilitation of the flow of goods, together with providing information on procedures and restrictions on access to certain markets in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, we initiated Border Crossing Facilitation Agreements aimed at helping certain categories of workers or border residents. In

the first wave of the pandemic, we also helped (through contacts with companies and institutions of other countries) ensuring the supply of Croatian medical institutions and the population with disinfectants, protective masks and other protective medical equipment. At the same time, we continued performing all our regular activities including the support to Croatian companies internationally. Croatia is a tourist country, and this follows other branches of

the economy (transport, trade, catering…). How much room is there for progress and development and in which direction will you work specifically? — Despite some unfavourable predictions for the 2020 tourist season, we have achieved very good results considering the circumstances. Croatia was recognized as a safe tourist destination. We have managed to balance between our citizens’ health and tourist season opening in order to preserve jobs and protect the tourism industry and our economy. The Croatian Government has already begun preparations for the next tourist season by giving further financial support in order to save companies and jobs. The

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“Council for Recovery and Development of Tourism” was established, bringing together all relevant stakeholders in the tourism sector. Next to strategic planning, its main task is to prepare the tourist season 2021 in the circumstances of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, making it capable of providing all necessary services and promote Croatian tourism abroad. Our line ministries are in constant communication and consider further joint steps. In addition, the Government is in the process of development of “National Development Strategy 2030” to specify development areas and goals for next 10 years. It is worth noting that many tourists who come to Croatia constitute a type of a new and large export market for domestic food producers. Through tourism, it is possible to place various local products directly, for example fresh from the field, which is becoming more and more popular nowadays and in which Croatia is becoming increasingly competitive. In this direction, the Government is preparing and implementing a series of measures funded through EU and national funds to encourage domestic food production and develop the distribution network. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, through its network of diplomatic and consular missions, supports the activities of the Ministry of Tourism Sport and the Croatian Tourist Board, continuously working on the promotion of the Republic of Croatia and is always at the service of Croatian tourism professionals in all their activities abroad. When it comes to foreign trade, Croatia is primarily directed to European countries and countries in the region. Where is there the most room for improvement in which areas, in what way? — Croatia's foreign trade is indeed taking place for the most part with EU countries and the region of Southeast Europe. The pandemic and the economic closure in the first half of the year, caused a decline in business activities among the most of our trading partners. Despite the current wave of the pandemic in Europe, the recovery of some economies is noticeable. In the circumstances of the pandemic, the IT sector turned out to be one of the most resilient. In this sector, Croatia has prov-

en track record and we see further opportunities to grow. Companies that have lost their traditional markets due to new circumstances and reduced demand will need help finding new ones to survive. Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs will support through its system of economic diplomacy all the initiatives of line ministries and business associations aimed at helping companies find business partners. Where do you see the most problems and obstacles for a larger

24,2 billion Euros at the disposal in next 7 years. This will be a good incentive for the development of the economy. During the pandemic, promotional activities moved to digital fast. In this context, we welcome the activities of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, which reacted quickly and created the Go Global - Go Virtual platform to connect its members with potential partners in markets of interest to Croatian companies. Croatian embassies and consulates actively participate in these activities.

ing much greater transparency in doing business between our two countries. This is a crucial issue for our exporters and particularly for companies in the IT sector. What will be your priority as a Secretary of State in your work and focus in 2021, from which we expect a lot after this 2020? — The overall priority for all of us is overcoming the crisis caused by the coronavirus. The pandemic imposed a completely new dynamic in both our everyday per-


volume and increase in foreign trade in favor of Croatia? — The biggest challenge now is to maintain and develop business activities during the pandemic. It is crucial that companies continue to operate, including with the support of the state. With the Croatian accession to the EU, Croatian exports to EU countries grew strongly (as expected), but imports increased as well. The main goal in the coming period is to achieve a better trade balance. Therefore, focus of the Government is to assist companies to develop and grow, both through better regulations and better public services but with the extensive funding as well. Croatia, through EU funds will have

The announcement of the abolition of double taxation between Croatia and the United States would certainly affect the development of economic relations, primarily in favor of Croatia. Where is there room for improvement and what more needs to be done to make that happen? — I am convinced that strong efforts will be made to try to complete the negotiations as soon as possible, so that Croatian companies can operate on the US market under the same conditions as their competitors from other European Union countries. The signing of this Convention will certainly contribute to fostering trade and investments between Croatia and US, ensur-

sonal lives as well as our working environment. Good medical solution is the precondition for creating and fully implementing many business goals. However, we adapted to the “new normal” and in that “new normal”, we plan our activities for the upcoming period. Our attention will be on promotion of Croatian economic interests worldwide. Activities will focus on providing support to Croatian companies in expanding their businesses abroad and increasing exports. Also, we will continue with the promotion of Croatia as an attractive business and investment destination, in order to attract new foreign direct investments.



by Nikica Miloš

The End of an Era The start of a new century, 21 years later ith the start of 2021, an era will end: Donald Trump will cease to be the President of the United States – he was the least predictable of all the others in the history and the first Twitter-President in the world. On the other hand, Brexit will finally come into force, after a transitional period that didn’t quite show that the UK has left the EU. After a one-year “break”, life will return to normal, but what will this “new normal” be?



THE DEPARTURE OF THE UNPREDICTABLE ONE Donald Trump, the showman who made things entertaining to Twitter followers, is leaving the position of the President after the elections, the regularity of which was overshad-

owed by doubt, and after a bitter struggle not to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. Some say he made a mistake going after China, since China allegedly did all it could to replace him. Trump certainly deteriorated relations with Iran, against which he holds a par-

ticular grudge, and with China, which he attacked with economic measures we haven’t seen for a long time. He also attacked Canada and the EU when he didn’t like their economic agendas, and his greatest legacy will be the new so-called NAFTA 2.0 agree-


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ment – which increased the salaries of US workers, but also of Mexican workers. He geared up against Huawei and ZTE, but the victory was only temporary, because the Chinese decided not to trust the Americans anymore and to rely on themselves much more, even when it comes to production of microchips. He inadvertently created a monster that will rule the world in 10 years, and which no one will be able to influence anymore. It is highly unlikely that Biden will fix things with China to a greater extent, but he will do some damage control. Trump did almost nothing with Russia, and there were high hopes. Biden will probably do even worse than Trump there. He will probably loosen the grip on Latin American countries, which have suffered under the Republicans – overthrowing the governments in Bolivia, Brazil, attempts to overthrow the government in Venezuela and the impoverishment of this country with sanctions has brought a lot of misery south of the Panama Canal. The corona pandemic was treated badly, and people had more money from the pandemic than before. That is what the ordinary citizens will remember Trump for. The Israeli will remember him as a man who enabled them to travel to Dubai and establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain and UAE, with the announcement of the opening of Sudan, Chad, Amman, and even Saudi Arabia. The agreement between Serbia and Kosovo is yet another diplomatic success achieved by Trump. And the rest of the world will remember him as the man who started no wars – except for a few bombings of Syria and the murder of Iranian general Soleimani, he had no war adventures, and he also promised the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq. We are not certain that Biden’s administration will be so peaceful.

CHINESE, RUSSIANS AND TURKS TAKING OFFENSIVE ACTIONS The Chinese started the corona-diplomacy, they sent help to everyone and this help was received with gratitude. Now they initiated the vaccine-diplomacy, and they have their zones of influence. They sold coronavirus protection products to the entire world, and China is one of the few countries that recorded growth in 2020. If the “cold war”

EUROPE IS STILL STRUGGLING WITH THE IDEA OF "EUROPEAN VALUES" FAILING TO IMPOSE ITS IDEAS ON EASTERN EUROPE THAT IS PART OF THE EU, THE SO-CALLED TRIMARIUM between USA and China continues, we will be faced with deep division of spheres of interest - two internet standards, two opposing 5G networks and value systems that are incompatible. The West missed out on a big opportunity to secure their position in Africa and Asia in the post-colonial era – they mostly insisted on human rights, democracy or simply, on their interests. China dived into Africa and Asia even before the Belt and Road, with the launch of the initiative that was once called “The New Silk Road”, they invested in much-needed infrastructure without meddling in politics – which everyone liked. Now Russia is focusing more strongly on Africa – Putin has branded himself as a stabilizer and peacemaker in Syria and Azerbaijan, but also silently in the Central African Republic, which has fallen into the Russian sphere of influence, just like Madagascar. A Russian naval base, the second one in the world outside the borders of former Soviet Union, is opening

in Sudan. Libya has been in Russia’s focus for quite some time already, but Turkey is showing interest in this country as well. It’s interesting that Russia and Turkey, countries that are always driven by completely opposite interests (Karabakh, Libya, Syria, etc.), agree on a peaceful solution in each one of these places. In 2020, the Russians have profiled themselves as a peacemaker (Kirgizia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, etc.), but they do it so that the solution works in their favour. The Chinese are the financial part of this duo, and the Russians are the military part. How the EU and USA will react to the taking of vacant positions by these three new and increasingly more ambitious forces, we shall see.

EUROPE AT A CROSSROAD Europe is still struggling with the idea of "European values" failing to impose its ideas on Eastern Europe that is part of the EU, the so-called Trimarium. Poland and Hungary have even blocked

the adoption of the corona crisis relief package, unless the pressure on them to adopt standards in the media and the judiciary is stopped. The second crisis in 10 years, after the 2009-2012 European public debt crisis, has affected mainly the same, tourism-dependent countries. The North and the South of the EU continue to observe each other in distrust, but they will have to talk and understand each other. Angela Merkel will leave the leadership of Germany after 16 years. We will see how Europe will cope with all the challenges, from anti-vaxxers and populists to the narrow national interests of individual nations. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Europe, because its different colours make it the most interesting home. When the pandemic ends and the world returns to normal, we will see what the work ethic, public events and behaviour of the people will be like. It is possible that the 21st century is ready to start now, 20 years after the calendar date.




JULIJE DOMAC Ambassador of the European Climate Pact The European Commission launched the European Climate Pact on 9 December 2020, an EU-wide umbrella climate platform that calls on people, communities and organizations to take part in climate action and build a greener Europe. European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said: - The European Climate Pact will bring together

TATJANA ANTOLIĆ JASNIĆ Member of the Management Board of Zagrebačka banka Tatjana Antolić Jasnić has been appointed a member of the Management Board who will be in charge and responsible for Risk Management and Control, and will replace Marco Lotteri, who will serve as a member of the Management Board for this area until the beginning of her term. Lotteri continues his professional career in a position within the UniCredit Group. Gianluca Totaro, currently Director of Human Re-


sources Management, has been appointed a member of the Management Board for Human Resources Management, while Pavel Vinter, currently Director of Banking Support, has been appointed a member of the Management Board to be in charge of Banking Support. The decision on the appointment of new members of the Management Board is subject to the consent of the Croatian National Bank.


anyone who wants to take action for our planet. With the Pact, we want to help everyone in Europe to take action in their daily lives and give everyone the opportunity to get involved in the green transition and inspire each other. When it comes to combating climate change, everyone can do something and everyone can contribute.



KAZAKHSTAN Independence Day



National Day



I ndependence and Unity Day JANUARY



National Day


SLOVAKIA Independence Day


HAITI Independence Day

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Covid-19 Threatens Girls’ Gigantic Global Gains Countries must work harder to safeguard progress or much of human history and in many places, girls were considered property. Or, at best, subordinate people, required to obey their fathers until the day they had to start obeying their husbands. Few people thought it worthwhile to educate them. Even fewer imagined that a girl could grow up to govern Germany, run the IMF or invent a vaccine. In most of the world that vision of girlhood now seems not merely old-fashioned but unimaginably remote. In much of the rich world parents now treat their daughters as well as they do their sons, and invest as much in their future. In field after field girls have caught up with boys. Globally, young women now outnumber young men at university. The speed of change has been blistering. Fifty years ago only 49% of primary-school-age girls in lower-middle-income countries were in school, compared with 71% of boys; today the share of both is about 90%. In 1998 only half the world’s secondary-school-age girls were enrolled; today twothirds are. Over the same period rates of illiteracy fell from one in five young women aged 15-24 to one in ten, bringing them roughly on a par with young men. Girl babies are more wanted than ever before. Parents in some countries prefer them. Even in places, such as China, where the sex-selective abortion of girl fetuses has been rife, it is often becoming less so. Girls are also less likely to be married off in childhood. In 1995 almost six in ten girls in South Asia were hitched before reaching 18; that ratio has fallen by half. Around the world, it has fallen from one in four to one in five. Girls are healthier, too. Compared with the mid-1990s, they become sexually active later and are more likely to use contraception. Rates of teenage pregnancy have fallen by a quarter globally and by two-thirds in South Asia and North America. Girls are less likely to suffer female genital mutilation—and object to this horrif-


STUDIES SUGGEST THAT IN THE NEXT DECADE 13M CHILD MARRIAGES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED MAY GO AHEAD, AND AN EXTRA 2M GIRLS MAY HAVE THEIR GENITALS CUT, BECAUSE OF COVID-19 ic tradition more vocally. Whereas in 2000 just 27% of women and girls in the most-affected regions said it should be banned, today 54% do. When societies handle girlhood well, the knock-on effects are astounding. A girl who finishes secondary school is less likely to become a child bride or a teenage mother. Education boosts earning power and widens choices, so she is less likely to be poor or to suffer domestic abuse. She will earn almost twice as much as a girl without schooling. And she will pass on a smorgasbord of advantages to her offspring. She will have fewer children, and invest more in them. They will be less likely to die in infancy, or to grow up stunted physically or mentally. She will read to them more, and help them with their homework. All this means they will learn more, and earn more as adults. A recent study by Citigroup and Plan International estimated that, if a group of emerging economies ensured that 100% of their girls completed secondary school, it could lead to a lasting boost to their GDP of 10% by 2030. Because the benefits of nurtur-

ing girls are so large, it is a scandal that some countries have still failed to grasp them. Less than half the girls in South Asia, the Middle East or Africa have access to the contraception that they may want. Only one girl in three south of the Sahara finishes her secondary education. And although rates of child marriage have fallen by half in South Asia, they have fallen by less than that in Africa (which now has the highest rate in the world) and have remained stagnant in Latin America and the Caribbean. The covid-19 pandemic could hobble progress for girls in poor countries, or even reverse it. During previous disasters, they have often suffered most. When Ebola forced west African schools to close in 2014, many girls dropped out, never went back and ended up pregnant or as child labourers. UNICEF warns that something similar could happen with covid-19—but on a larger scale. Studies suggest that in the next decade 13m child marriages that would have been averted may go ahead, and an extra 2m girls may have their genitals cut. The risk of regression is real. So it is crucial that, even if govern-

ments of poor countries have to tighten their belts, they prioritise spending on education and girls. Donors should help, too. And policies should be joined up. Persuading girls to stay in school longer is not only a way to teach them maths; it is also a chance to vaccinate them and teach them about birth control, consent and self-assertion. It can even be an opportunity to advise parents about the downsides of child marriage. Adolescence is a crucial juncture for girls. It is when many health problems emerge or are averted; and many social ones, too, from truancy to self-harm. Only recently has this phase been recognised as the most important for brain development after infancy. Get it right and billions of girls will have a better shot at fulfilling their potential. Get it wrong and they will live poorer, shorter lives, less able to stand up for themselves, more vulnerable to coercion, and more likely to pass these disadvantages on to the next generation. So, get girlhood right. From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com



Video Games Industry - Legal Aspects The video games industry – PC games, mobile games, console games and browser/social network games – is one of the fastest growing industries



PETAR PETRIĆ Attorney-at-Law, Petrić&Kajić Law Firm LLC

n the global video games market, the value of which is estimated at €159.3 billion with 270 million players, Chines market has the biggest share, and it’s followed by the markets of USA, Japan, Germany and Great Britain. Mobile games posted the strongest growth, since many internet cafés were closed during the pandemic, and availability of mobile devices is on the rise. According to some analysts, mobile gaming will bring in $77.2 billion in revenue in 2020, up 13.3 percent from 2019. With this, the new gaming industry will surpass the global film industry. Regardless if you are a video game publisher, developer, freelancer or licensor, or otherwise involved in the video game industry, each of these key players must necessarily understand the legal environment needed to develop games, the contracts that need to be concluded, and which regulate interpersonal relationships in the gaming industry, and all other legal aspects of the gaming industry.


LEGAL ASPECTS Legal understanding and knowledge is required from the early stages of the concept and pre-production through production and implementation stage, including the documenting of investors’ investments and regulation of licences, intellectual property and all other rights and obligations of each one of the participants that has to be contracted. Thus, a number of contracts and contractual provisions have to be prepared: - Development Contract -Investment Contract -Employment Contract


INTERACTION AND CONNECTION BETWEEN DEVELOPERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND PUBLISHERS IS VERY COMMON AND REQUIRES COMPLEX LEGAL MONITORING OF THESE RELATIONSHIPS -Nondisclosure Agreement – NDA - Distribution Agreement - Licence Agreement - End user Licence Agreement - EULAs - Terms of Service - TOS The structure of participants in the video game industry 1) Developers – persons specializing in software development, i.e. in the video game industry, persons who create a video game and all the segments it consists of - image, sound, design and other components that a particular

game will require. Although there are still small developers, today better known as "indie" developers who can create a video game and place it on the market, the market is ruled by companies that employ a large number of developers, workers and teams involved in the video game production process. So we have modelers who will make models for the game, or the skeleton of the game itself, artists who will contribute to the visual appearance of the game itself, designers who take care of the experience of the game itself. In

addition, teams of engineers create the foundation of the video game, i.e. they take care of certain parts that characterize the game. 2) Publishers - participants who make sure that the game is placed on the market. Publishers are most often companies that work with a large number of developers, and research the market and consumer needs in order to create a gaming portfolio with as high a chance of success as possible. In addition to the above, publishers fund the entire project and strive to create a marketing campaign

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3) Distributors – they allow the game to be downloaded in the classic way or in digital form via digital distribution platforms without buying it in a classic store. Until twenty years ago, video games were distributed or sold exclusively in physical form. With the advent of the internet, video games began to be sold online, and today this sales channel is the largest part of sales 4) Traders 5) Buyer 6) End users of products, also known as “players”, i.e. persons participating in the creation of relationship with characters in the game, the story that goes together with the video game, the music and the mechanics itself. Interaction and connection between developers, distributors and publishers is very common and requires complex legal monitoring of these relationships.

LEGAL PROVISIONS ON VIDEO GAMES IN THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA Law on Audiovisual Activities published in the Official Gazette no. 61/18 and entered into force on 19 July 2018, introduced the category of video games for the first time. Thus, the production of video games is clearly defined as an audiovisual activity, and is classified in the same audiovisual activity as the production of other multimedia content, TV series and films and the provision of on-demand audiovisual servic-

THE PRODUCTION OF VIDEO GAMES IS CLEARLY DEFINED AS AN AUDIOVISUAL ACTIVITY, AND IS CLASSIFIED IN THE SAME AUDIOVISUAL ACTIVITY AS THE PRODUCTION OF OTHER MULTIMEDIA CONTENT es such as the Internet and other media. This Law regulates the definition of audiovisual activities and audiovisual work so that they include video games, which created a legal framework for further development of one of the most propulsive segments of the audiovisual industry. Thus, the law states that audio-

visual works are feature and documentary films, animated films, experimental films, multimedia and transmedia projects, television series and films, video games and all other audiovisual works that are artistic and/or authorial expression regardless of the technology used to create them, the base on which they are fixed and the manner in which they are

displayed. Along with some benefits, the legislator has prescribed obligations for game developers as well. There is an obligation to emphasize the categorization of each work before its publication with regard to the age of the users for whom it is intended. The law prohibits the distribution, sale and rental of video games to minors if the category of games is not appropriate for their age. Also, public display and advertising of games that are not suitable for minors is prohibited.

IS ADVICE OF LEGAL EXPERTS NECESSARY? The video games industry is developing very quickly and dynamically. Major players in the gaming industry use legal advice of legal experts, most often specialized lawyers who are familiar with the industry and are up to date with the latest achievements and trends. All other participants in the gaming industry, including startups that are entering the market or are already on it, must get advice from legal experts in order to create a balance with large investors and thus achieve desired financial results. Email: info@petric-kajic.hr



Conference The Economist “Svijet u 2021.” 18.12. National and University Library in Zagreb

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić

Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić – Radman, CEO of Color Media Communications, Robert Čoban, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Ivan Vrdoljak Livit

or the second consecutive year in a row, the conference The Economist Svijet u 2021, organized by Color Media Communications, as the holder of the regional license, and the Livit Company as the representative for Croatia, was held. Speaking at the conference, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković pointed out the global challenges that the world will face in the time after the pandemic, but also the rea-

sons for optimism regarding a quick and strong recovery. He briefly presented the five basic components of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan – the economy, public administration, the judiciary and state assets, education, science and research, the labour market and social protection, and health. “Together, we have shown a really high level of political responsibility as the Union in an unprece-



dented way,” Mr Plenković said, adding that the available funds, in the years ahead, would enable mechanisms for the recovery of European economies and resilience. Last year, when we held the World in 2020 conference at the Croatian National Bank. no one could have even dreamed what 2020 would really look like. For us, this is a year that everyone wants to forget, but we are also

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

proud that, even in such conditions, we have managed to publish of the magazine The World in 2021, as well as hold a conference in accordance with epidemiological recommendations. I am confident that the development and use of vaccines against the Covid-19 virus will be a light at the end of the tunnel, both for Croatia and the region, as well as for Europe and the world, and that 2021 will be a year of economic recov-

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ery and society as a whole,“ said CEO of Color Media Communications, Robert Čoban. The Croatian partner and the leader of the The Economist: World in 2021 project for Croatia is the former Minister of Economy, today the director of the Livit Company, Ivan Vrdoljak. “Today, in times of pandemic and crisis, it is especially important to talk publicly about how to deal with the crisis, but it is even more important to talk about what is our

aim when we overcome the crisis. ‘Next Generation EU’ is the European Commission’s financial instrument for the European Union’s recovery from the crisis, and ‘Next Generation HR’ is a platform for reaching a consensus on what kind of Croatia and what kind of Croatian economy we want to have in the future. The format of this internationally influential yearbook provides a great foundation for any country because it realistically puts each country in a

broader global context of events, relationships and trends, both in the economy and politics, ” said Mr Vrdoljak. The conference was also attended by the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Tomislav Ćorić, Head of the EC Delegation to Croatia, Ognian Zlatev, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić – Radman, Head of the European Investment Bank Office in Zagreb, Anton Kovačev, Ambassador

CEO of Color Media Communications, Robert Čoban

of the United Kingdom to Croatia, H.E. Andrew Dalgleish, Ambassador of France to Croatia H.E. Gaël François Veyssiere. Business executives Davor Žmegač, director of Petrokemiej, Dajana Mrčela, executive director of Saponia d.d. Osijek, Dalibor Greganić, director of Profil Klett, Danijel Benussi, director of Auto Benussi d.o.o., and Mirna Marović, director of VentureXchange Ltd, also spoke about their expectations and how they see the recovery in 2021.

Director of Diplomacy & Commerce Croatia, Color media Communications Boban Spasojević

Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Croatia, Dajana Mrčela, executive director of Saponia H.E. Andrew Dalgleish d.d. Osijek

Head of the European Investment Bank Office in Zagreb, Anton Kovačev

Ivan Vrdoljak Livit , Mirna Marović director of VentureXchange Ltd

Ambassador of France to Croatia H.E. Gaël François Veyssiere


Hrvoje Krhen, Director of LNG Croatia

H.E. Vojislav Šuc, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia

Renato Pandža Narativ.Ageny

Ivan Vrdoljak Livit

Danijel Benussi, CEO at Auto Benussi d.o.o.

H.E. Robert Richard Klinke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany


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The World Will Soon Have Covid-19 Vaccines. Will People Have the Jabs? Many are worried about side-effects, and that clinical trials have been conducted too quickly fter months of dark headlines about the coronavirus pandemic, at last there is hope on the horizon. Last week Pfizer and BioNTech, two pharmaceutical firms, unveiled early data showing that their experimental vaccine is 90% effective in preventing covid-19. On November 16th Moderna, another pharma company, reported that its jab is nearly 95% effective. Financial markets cheered: on both days the S&P 500, America’s main stockmarket index, set record highs. More vaccines are probably on the way. But there are still hurdles to overcome. Both vaccines must undergo further testing. Vaccines have to be manufactured in huge quantities and distributed effectively. And people must be willing to have the jabs. This may prove surprisingly problematic. According to a recent poll by Ipsos-MORI, less than three-quarters of adults say they are keen to get vaccinated for covid-19. The poll, which was conducted between October 8th and October 13th, asked 18,000 adults in 15 countries whether they would get a vaccine. Just 73% said they would, down from 77% in August. Only in three countries— Mexico, Germany, and South Africa—were people more eager to get vaccinated in October than they had been two months earlier. France remained the most reluctant country overall (see chart). Why the hesitation? The most



moved too quickly (33%). Around one in ten respondents said they are against vaccines altogether. But such “anti-vax” sentiment is not common. Respondents were more likely to say they would get the vaccine, but not right away. Indeed just 52% said they would accept one within the first three months of its availability; 12% said they would wait at least a year to get inoculated. Some demographic groups are especially suspicious: those with less education in Australia; those on lower incomes in France; and the unemployed and African-Americans in the United States. Such scepticism could prolong the pandemic, and it is worrying

that it appeared to be mounting in the autumn—perhaps because of suspicions that vaccines were being rushed through. Public-health authorities will hope that this week’s news might reverse that trend. Most models suggest that, even if the vaccines under development prove highly effective at preventing covid-19, at least twothirds of the population will have to be vaccinated to quash future outbreaks. Failure to address the public’s fears soon could disrupt even the best-laid plans. From The Economist, published under licence. The original article, in English, can be found on www.economist.com




Photo: Alina Vilchenko

Regional music vaccine

he band named after the first satellite, news agency and vaccine against COVID-19, is being heard more and more often on radio stations in Zagreb. But it also has deep Croatian roots. We are talking to the band Sputñik from Novi Sad after their first two singles were released in a language we can understand, and our interlocutor is the band’s frontman Žikica Milošević, who is also the editor of the publication “Svijet za 2021.” for Croatia.



How did you come up with the name that we now hear more and more often as the fighter against Covid-19? — When Aleksandar Cvijetinović and I started the band, before he focused on his academic painting career, our idea was to show that the band is coming from Eastern Europe, and it was also important

to us to choose a well-known term for which we do not have to educate people on how to read it. Since we were both fans of the Russian avant-garde, it made sense to choose a term from that language. And Sputñik seemed SF-like and modern, retro and vintage all at the same time. We added the Spanish letter “ñ” to differentiate our-

selves from other Sputniks, whether they are performers, bands or, more recently, news agencies. And even a vaccine. Here, let the vaccine save the world from coronavirus, along with other similar vaccines, and let the band save the world from the bad taste that is becoming more common, with the help of other similar bands.


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I’m half asleep. Then I jump out of bed and start taking notes, and I’m often euphoric until 7am so I can’t sleep. Some songs were written by someone else, for example Domagoj Kršić from our brother band Cyborgs on Crack from Virovitica, Croatia did a great deal of work and wrote a bunch of songs for us, and he also played keyboards. Some songs are written by other members, everyone is free to add their own vision. I see the band as a big square where people gather with ideas, everyone contributes with their own point of view, which I don't have. On the first album, Domagoj and I were "Lennon and McCartney", as he puts it, and as two full-time members and composers, we called the band a "Serbo-Croatian co-production”.

How are the songs made? —They are often made at night, in the "witching hour”, around 3 o'clock in the morning. Or when

How did it come to be that you sang two songs in your language, after so many songs sung in English?

Photo: Alina Vilchenko

How were you formed? — The first incarnation of the band was in 1999, when we were kids and when Aleksandar Cvijetinović, now a professor at the Academy of Classical Painting in Sremska Kamenica, invited me to join his band that was supposed to do cover gigs. To learn the technique, we first practiced with the songs by Suede, Oasis, The Cure, and then we “caught” some inspiration and did a few of our own songs. One of them was “The Drinkable World” in April 2000. Its demo was made in a room in Sremska Mitrovica, you can even hear it on YouTube! At that time, I wrote a song, a poetic song on paper, titled “Pitak svet” (Drinkable world) and I practically translated it into English at rehearsal. We had a gig where we mainly did Suede covers and a few of some other songs, and we ended the gig with our only original song at the time. The band fell apart in the beginning of 2002 due to musical differences, but the song remained. We liked to say then that the song was created “from a marriage between Joy Division and Morrissey”, but this changed over time, even though I think that Joy Division and The Smiths have a strong influence in our music even today. Later on, in 2006, I noticed that the people still liked this demo, and after several attempts to bring the band back together, I managed to do it at the beginning of 2012. I thought that the best thing in this period of synth-pop revival, after all the guitar bands, was to make a mix between synth-pop and Britpop. I think that The Killers inspired me the most, but I also like to say that our music is like “Depeche Mode meets Placebo” or “New Order meets Suede”, or whatever you choose. We are just halfway between synth-pop and guitars, and that’s what we wanted. In lyric poetry, like in Coldplay, it’s about poetic self-examination for the sake of love. Since love always revolves around beautiful women, and since every song is true and experienced, it makes sense for them to appear on the cover and in videos. We want to look and sound like we are not from these regions, and we want to be aesthetically consistent.

TO LEARN THE TECHNIQUE, WE FIRST PRACTICED WITH THE SONGS BY SUEDE, OASIS, THE CURE, AND THEN WE “CAUGHT” SOME INSPIRATION AND DID A FEW OF OUR OWN SONGS — It all started with “The Drinkable World”. When I restarted Sputñik in 2013, we made a version for a single with the second band, but later on, as the band members changed, we never played the song that way, it was always different. And many people asked us at gigs “where can I hear the version that you’re playing now?” I remembered that they can’t hear it anywhere, so I came up with the idea to record the 2020 Version to mark the 20th anniversary of that song, and we made it in the same month when the demo was made, in August. That is the version you can hear in our gigs. And a special surprise is that I sang it in Serbian as well, and it’s called “Pitak svet”. In fact, this is counter-translation, because this “poem” was translated into English to become a “music song”, and now it’s “coming home”. It was challenging to write for the band in Serbi-

an for the first time. But I wanted to draw the attention of the regional audience to ourselves, and it is a well-known fact that the domestic audience does not like bands that do not sing in Serbian (Croatian). Simply, I got tired of having many people tell us that it was "great, if only it was in our language". Some members are... Russians? Do people listen to you in Croatia? — Well yeah, 75% of the band are citizens of Russia: guitarist Kiril Boyko came from Saint-Petersburg, and Vladimir Chudinov from Novosibirsk, while Valeria Nesterova, vocal, came from Moscow. I joke that they were attracted by the name of the band. And you can hear our songs on radios 101 and Yammat for several years already. I also hope for a gig in Zagreb once this madness is over.


The Best Practices of Global Virtual Team’s Communication Effective communication within global virtual teams (GVT) seems to be crucial for achieving better results and to boost overall productivity. But what does effective online communication mean?


JAGODA POROPAT DARRER Business Communication Professional

s Christmas is at the door and 2020, a year to remember, is getting to its end, usually everyone summarizes past events, tends to draw conclusions, and perhaps comes with some smart tips for future. As if three spirts from Charles Dicken's The Christmas Carol came, and showed us the true value of being on this World. For communication experts those are the new four C's: Civility, Camaraderie, Community and Compassion. The year was, and still is taught in instance of health and wealth, and who knows what the new one will bring to us. Thought, it's the perfect time to reflect and prepare ourselves to be more adaptable and agile in communication than ever. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the move to an online workplace has become widespread and may well endure. But, as many organizations are learning, managing the flow of communication among remote teams is tricky. The three challenges of effective communication within a global virtual team encompass distance, technology and interpersonal relations. Distance could trigger isolation and solitude that sometimes can lead to depression and low performance. Moreover, some people could feel resilience towards new technology and even develop fear of shifting all their work processes online. As a result, the group cohesion could be weakened and feelings of distrust can arise, disrupting relationships among the team. The latest research findings (Riedl and Woolley, 2020) have



led to insights that can help avoid such problems. They center on the concept of burstiness, information diversity, and physiological synchrony attention to which can foster creativity, streamline processes, reduce the stress of multi-tasking, and improve team performance. Their research suggests that such burst of rapid-fire communications, with longer periods of silence in between, are hallmarks of successful teams. Those silent periods are when team members often form and develop their ideas – deep work that many generate the next steps in a project or solution to a challenge faced by the group. Burst, in turn, help to focus energy, develop ideas, and achieve closure on specific questions, thus, enabling team members to move on to the next challenge. To communicate in a bursty manner, according to Reidl and Woolley, members of a team should avoid thinking of message-based communication,

like email and texting, as asynchronous, with everyone simply sending messages to one another whenever they feel like it. Instead, they should align their work routines and then communicate in short periods when everybody can respond rapidly and attentively. That's the route to higher performance. The diversity of information we communicate is critical for effective communication. Diversity in teams also plays an important role, because it facilitates the exchange of a greater diversity of information, which in turn boosts team performance. Research suggests that each piece of communication should focus on a small set of topics, because that creates more information diversity across messages. Small chunks of information help focus the mind and declutter communications. In managing multiple emails it's dangerously easy to become lost in searching for information, or just to get distracted


from what's actually the most important topic of the moment. Hill and Bartol (2018) suggest not to assume that everyone on your team is aware of potential pitfalls with virtual communication or of the five key behaviors that improve performance (matching the technology to the task, making intentions clear, staying in sync, being responsive and supportive, and being open and inclusive). They suggest creating a team charter that describes how you will work together. Specify technologies the team will or won’t use for different tasks (“Don’t use email to discuss sensitive interpersonal issues”); standard formats and etiquette for written communications (“Highlight or bold to emphasize action items in emails”); plans for keeping everyone in sync (“Let the team know ahead of time if a commitment or deadline cannot be met”); expected time to respond to requests (“Acknowledge receipt within 24 hours”); and types of communication that should always be shared with everyone (“Use the ‘would you want to know?’ rule of thumb”). They found that clearly conveyed norms do make a difference. The research also shows that people with prior experience in collaborating virtually had higher virtual communication ratings. Leaders can rely on those team members to model effective behaviors — and can model the behaviors themselves — to raise the whole group to a higher standard. Each company should find its own best way to manage the communication within its virtual teams based on their own organization culture. The main advice is to maintain the interpersonal relationships high as much as possible. The easiest way to do that is to make sure that there is no lack of the nonverbal cues, to create a burst of rapid-fire communications, with longer periods of silence in between and to foster the informal communication between teams’ members.

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