Scorching heat

After vacation in cooler parts of Europe, Croatia welcomed me with a heatwave. Last week temperatures rose as high as 39 in some parts of the country. This week will be hot too, with 36 degrees expected on Thursday.
When back in Zagreb, first thing I did was getting an electric fan in nearby Getro (my apartment is not air conditioned). It was made in Croatia and packed in a simple, white carton box with no pictures on it. I am always skeptical of Croatian products that you can't eat or drink, but "I believe they know how to make a simple thing like a fan," I can still hear myself saying.
Well, they don't.
The motor and the housing were shaking so much it would make a hammer drill manufacturer jealous. It make noise like a Tupolev taking off.
You can blame me for buying a fan in a supermarket store like Getro, but you should know Croatia hardly has any electronic shops to speak of. The nearest Media Markt is in Budapest or Graz. No Saturn, no Expert, no IKEA either.
I returned the fan and took the air conditioned bus to City Center One, shopping mall of modest size with one shop that offers consumer electronics, Konikom. It sells only one model fan but to my satisfaction it was made in China. "Could you switch it on?" I asked the lady at the counter. "Just to hear if it makes any noise." She kindly set the fan into motion. It was silent so I bought it. "What a difference!" I told the surprised lady.
Sitting a flow of air, I checked what happened in Croatia during my absence. Not much. We still don't know why Sanader quit, only that he's having a great time cruising the Adriatic on somebody's yacht. Vesna Pusić, one of Croatia's few liberal politicians, decided to run for president of Croatia in 2010. If she wins, Croatia will have a female president and a female prime minister. Prime minister Jadranka Kosor announced mayor cuts in spending and extra taxes, but after protests from labor unions she watered everything down. VAT (already 22 percent!) will go up to 23 percent. A crisis tax of 3 percent will be introduced, to be paid by everybody who earns more or has a bigger pension than 3.000 kuna (around 400 euro). Initially the tax would be as high as 8 percent, but unions protested vehemently. Unions here live in a dreamworld, blaming the crisis on "liberalism without concept" in which Croatia has slid away. It reminds me of Texans buying extra guns on the eve of Obama's election, fearing that "he will turn this country into a socialist state." "He's a communist," a man said into the camera, gently stroking his new rifle. Get real! Economic liberalism would be a blessing for the heavily indebted, bureaucratic, inefficient, subsidized Croatian economy.
Other news: Dinamo Zagreb beat Punyik from Armenia and plays Red Bull Salzburg next. A Croatian sports website wrote that if Salzburg's trainer, Dutchman Huub Stevens, had lived in the 1940s Hitler would have made him Field Marshall. (Stevens has also coached Schalke, Hitler's favorite club). Fortunately, incumbent president Stipe Mesić said that his successor "must be an anti-fascist". You see, World War II is always around the corner here.

13 reacties:

Anonymous said...

"Economic liberalism would be a blessing for the heavily indebted, bureaucratic, inefficient, subsidized Croatian economy."

Maybe, but is has to be done gradually. If not: people have no time to get used to changes and adapt their working attitude, especially in tumes of recession. Look at Russia and Lithuania (economy drops with 22%).

Boris Levalle said...

Lithuania was a Soviet republic, so its position in 1989 was far worse than Croatia has even been in (maybe except for the war years). Nevertheless it grew impressively, and now shrinks impressively. Croatia, to my taste, is moving so gradually that I'd rather call it stagnation.
I bet that once the crisis is over Lithuania will get wings again, whereas Croatia will keep muddling through if its politicians don't care to trim the outsized public sector.

Meryam said...

hello Boris - I thought you were on a holiday? I did not expect such a quick reaction! Blogging is new to me...

I think there are similarities, though: Lithuania was communist, Croatia was socialist (at least, under Tito): the resemblance is a strong government and people who are not used to work hard for their own business. In my opinion (just common sense, I am no economist) I think Croatia is developing in an unsteady, unbalanced way: the coast is relatively rich and the rest of the country soso. That is asking for difficulties since Dalmatia has to pay for e.g. Slavonia. I read somewhere that Dalmatia wants to separate from the rest of Croatia...

So: Gradually developing is okay, slowly is okay too, but unbalanced is not.
Besides I think the country is very dependent of tourism and now there is a recession going on. In my case it makes no difference: I wil go back next year, but I'm not sure about the average tourist...

Boris Levalle said...

Hello Meryam,
I did go on vacation already. There are several weeks of blogging silence between the latest post (this one) and the one before.
I hope you can write where you read that Dalmatia wants to separate from the rest of Croatia. That would be sensational news and an old dream coming true (at least a dream of some Dalmatians).
I don't see it happening yet. Dalmatia can't live from tourism alone. The narrow strip along the coast may fare well, but Dalmatia's hinterland is very poor. Without Zagreb, there is no way Dalmatia can finance expensive projects such as the highway to Dubrovnik and Peljesački most.
So far the number of tourists in Croatia is down, but less than in other Mediterranean countries. Not much reason to celebrate, because, as you wrote, Croatia is very dependent on tourism (25 percent of its GDP).

Meryam said...

Hello Boris

I am in my coffee break ;-)
Funny to write in English, since I am Dutch like you.

No, I can't find my source any more. Probably more a wish under Dalmatians than a real plan. Hope I didn't alarm anyone ;-) I can't see it happening either. It is already difficult enough for Croatia to become a member of EU without internal problems...

I was in Dubrovnik early May and it was not very crowded yet. I hate to think how it must be in July especially when the highway will be finished.
Do you think that most will be built? Or is it just a political stunt? Now I do have a URL for you (only in Dutch, so maybe you want to skip it here) :


Boris Levalle said...

That's funny indeed. I couldn't tell by your name. Meryam doesn't sound Croatian either (or rather: not at all). I obliged myself and the readers of this blog to write in English to avoid that some visitors would not be able to follow the discussion. Kind of pretentious, as my posts don't generate any discussion to speak of. Sad but true...
Anyway, I'm glad you're checking this blog during your coffee break :-)
Concerning the Peljesač bridge, I guess it is a matter of time before we hear the project will be cancelled. It was a ridiculous project anyway, and now that Sanader is gone brand new Prime Minister Kosor can kill off the bridge without losing her face. You can read more here, in English, about the scandal that will probably come to the surface. Or not. Some scandalous issues simply "disappear".
Lijep pozdrav iz Zagreba en alvast een goed weekeinde, Boris

Meryam said...

Meryam isn't my real name ;-)
And my boss wouldn't be glad...

They can find better use for the money, I should say.

Your last sentence intrigued me: "World War II is always around the corner here." I heard that the 1991/5 war is everyday on the radio, is that true? How do Croatians call it: the Patriottic war? Maybe a subject for a new blog?
A month ago IKON-television came with a documentary: 'Jack, the Balkan and me'. I bought it, partly because I'm studying Croatian, but the content interested me too. Jack said that it is not done talking/asking about the war in a personal way, among friends I mean.
I met two Croats in May who told me that there is still a lot of animosity between the new countries.

Pozdrav iz Nizozemske. Do you live/work partly in Croatia?


Boris Levalle said...

I don't know if the 91/95 war is daily on the radio (wouldn't surprise me), but it is a dominant theme in the media. There a special TV programs for war veterans and very often there are days to commemorate something (Independence Day, Statehood Day, Day of International Recognition, Vukovar Day and so on). 5th of August marks the beginning of Operation Storm, so again the war will be in the limelights.
Then there is a vast array of things related to the war: the pensions of war veterans, the Tribunal in The Hague, restoration of buildings, mass graves, people who got rich during the war, Serbia returning some stolen art to Croatia, a child who stepped on a land mine...
As you see, one way or another the war is all the time in the news.

The war is called Domovinski rat here, meaning Homeland war. In Dutch we'd call it Vaderlandse oorlog.

With friends I don't talk much about the war and with strangers, well, you never know who did what during that time, so it's better not to talk about it. You might make a "patriotic" remark to someone who's actually a Croatian Serb.
Some people I know do go to Belgrade to have a good time, but others swear they won't ever go.

Currently I'm living in Croatia. It's good to read that at least someone in The Netherlands studies Croatian. I've rarely seen Dutch people on Croatian courses here in Zagreb... Where are you studying Croatian? You can also directly mail me on

BrideOfRove said...

I appreciate the extra effort you go to by posting in English. I barely speak Spanish and French and zero Dutch. Many thanks for the great insight and information. And with that I'll go back to lurking.

Kindest Regards


Boris Levalle said...

Thanks! Nice to get such comments from time to time.

beppe said...

Wow, there's a lod of crazy people who study Croatian, I feel less alone ;)
Last april I met two Dutch guys in Zagreb, working on this project:
The croatian press talk about them
I share your impression: in Croatia the World War II seems to be always actual..
Poz svima

ps: da li se moze kazati nizozemska i holandja?

Meryam said...


A crazy advocate, very interesting.

I should say Nizozemska. In old Dutch "neder" means low (niza)_

Boris Levalle said...

We'll be speaking the lingua franca of the 22nd century. If the Balkans nations reverse the negative population trend, of course...

In Croatia Nizozemska is the standard, but everyone understands Holandija. In other ex-YU republics you'd better use Holandija.