Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
According to the latest study about environmentally unfriendly cars in the European Union and the damage they cause to the environment, Croats are among the Top 5 environmentally unfriendly drivers in the European Union.
The British organization Eco Experts, which is engaged in the energy efficiency, published the list in mid-February, which had been made upon data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
While compiling the list, Eco Experts took into account the average age of the car, the number of vehicles per thousand inhabitants, the percentage of vehicles that use alternative fuels as well as general air pollution.
The most ‘’toxic’’ drivers in the EU are the Czechs with the sixth lowest percentage of vehicles that use alternative fuels (0,7%) and the sixth oldest cars (14,5 years). It is not surprising that air in the Czech Republic is the third when it comes to air pollution on the Old Continent. The Czech Republic is followed by Poland, Estonia, Croatia and Slovakia.
By the number of vehicles per thousand inhabitants, Croatia placed as the 25th with 392 vehicles, followed by Latvia, Hungary and Romania. The average age of cars in Croatia is 14,1 years placing the country at the top of the EU list of old and environmentally unfriendly cars.
On the other hand, Sweden has the cleanest traffic and the least air pollution. Other Scandinavian countries and Ireland follow the country.
In the last year’s report, the European Environment Agency (EEA) pointed out that air pollution causes more than 500,000 premature deaths in Europe annually, however, this number is shrinking.
The agency also added that around 90 percent of European cities are exposed to air pollutants in concentrations that are considered harmful to health.
After the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St Blaise, Gor Asatryan is quite possibly only the second Armenia doctor to work in Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is certainly an international city but to find an Armenian is rare, there is a grand total of two living in the city and they are related. Gor is very well-loved by his patients at the Dubrovnik General Hospital where he has made a name for himself as a general surgeon. A fan of Dr. House, yes he even dedicates his free time to medicine, he explains to us about his journey to Dubrovnik.
How does a doctor from Armenia end up working in Dubrovnik General Hospital?
It is difficult to explain the journey briefly. I had been to Dubrovnik on holiday for a couple of times and during my third visit I started to ask about how the hospital in Dubrovnik is organised. I should have added that my sister lives in Dubrovnik and of course she was the reason that I visited on holiday. She organised a meeting with the former director of the Dubrovnik hospital and we discussed the options of me coming to work here. It was suggested to me at that meeting that if I was interested I should specialise in general surgery. He asked me about the conditions in hospitals in Armenia and he offered me a position to work in Dubrovnik. I accepted his offer. This was back in 2008. A year later I left home and started working in Dubrovnik.
Yes, your sister was the main reason behind you discovering Dubrovnik
That’s correct. My sister is a pianist and she came to Dubrovnik to perform a concert in the Rector’s Palace. She then fell in love with the city and decided to set up home here. Now we are both living here.
What were your first impressions when you saw Dubrovnik?
Like most people my first impressions were extremely positive. When I saw the Old City for the first time I was shocked at its beauty. I think it is the most beautiful city in the world. The combination of the historic city with the glorious blue sea…well this is just the perfect combination. There are many spectacular cities in Europe but the combination of this unique city and the incredible nature is not so easy to find.
Are there many Armenians living in Croatia? Are you and your sister the only Armenians living in Dubrovnik?
Yes, as far as I know my sister and I are the only Armenians living in Dubrovnik. There are a few more that I know of who live in Zagreb. I would guess that there are around fifteen Armenians living in Croatia. I know a few of them, one works as a violin teacher in Zagreb at the musical academy and there is another one who owns a jewellery shop. There are millions of Armenians living around the world, in fact more outside of Armenia than in the country.
So where do Armenians go when they emigrate?
The USA and Russia and the two most popular destinations. There are around 600,000 living in Los Angeles alone and another half a million in France. Germany is also a popular destination for ex-pats. Around 2.5 million live in Armenia, but in the US and Russia live 4 million ex-pats. It is estimated that the diaspora is three times bigger than the actual population. But in Dubrovnik only two, well four at the moment as my mother and father are visiting us.
What do you miss the most about home and was it difficult to adapt to life in Croatia?
Actually I very rarely go back to Armenia, the last time was seven years ago. I miss my good friend who I met whilst I was doing my military service. My parents come almost every year and they stay for a few months. Of course at the beginning I missed some foods from home. But now I have become accustomed to the cuisine here and I love the seafood and fish. One of the things that was difficult to find was accommodation. I think I have changed my address six or seven times in Croatia, now I have finally found an apartment for a long-term rent and I am more relaxed. Accommodation, or the lack of it, in Dubrovnik is certainly challenging.
Getting used to a new way of working must have been a challenge for you, how long did it take you to get up and running and what were the most difficult moments? We have heard of many satisfied patients you have treated.
Yes, I think working in any country that isn’t your home has certain trials. To be successful the employee must be flexible and be able to not only adapt but also accept his or her new working environment. If you continually compare your working life in a new country and home then you will lose time and energy. If you are prepared to work, and work hard, then the journey will be much easier. Of course I had new barriers in my way, such as learning a new language, and without learning the language there is no way that I could live or work in Croatia. I am now a specialist of general surgery and am very happy in my position.
Is it possible to compare Croatia and Armenia?
There are some similarities, both cultures and both people have a welcoming and friendly feel. I would say that the two mentalities are also similar but democracy and freedom of speech are much more developed in Croatia.
What were the reactions of your friends and family when you told them you were going to live in Croatia?
They joked “See you on the Adriatic.” Armenia is a football mad country and many remember Croatia at the 1996 European Football Championships in England, and then 1998 and the World Cup in France. Davor Suker is a household name in Armenia.
Where is home for you now?
My home is now Croatia, but year after year I can see myself slowly becoming a citizen of the world and I think now that my home is this planet.
The extreme cold weather that has hit Croatia has forced many roads to close, close schools and generally completely disrupt normal life. It has also given some unique views of the country’s nature, with the spectacular National Park of Plitvice looking even more incredible.
Snow, ice and sleet have brought a winter face to the most popular National Park in Croatia and we have chosen just a few of the hundreds of “snowy” Plitvice photos that have been published on Instagram.
The winter wonderland of Plitvice Lakes
Photo by - Ali Xanat
Photo by - mi104
Photo by - Riva Travel
Photo by - Passport Images
At today's session of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the County of Dubrovnik-Neretva discussions were carried out about the actions taken before and during the arctic cold wave that affected the entire Dubrovnik-Neretva County over the past few days.
Head of Civil Protection, Joško Cebalo, noted that he was satisfied with the preparation and reaction of the services during this testing time.
"I think it was a job well done. The services performed very well. Communication between all the services was also good as well as reporting to the general public about the changes and the current state," added Cebalo.
At the session it was emphasized that in the last few days the Mountain Rescue Services and the Dubrovnik General Hospital had several interventions caused by the snow and ice, and there was only one road traffic accident in the county area as a direct consequence of the winter conditions. It is estimated that around 200 tons of salt was used on the 1,050 kilometres of state, county and local roads during the extreme conditions.
“I have organised a 5 mile sponsored dog walk to help raise money and awareness for the Žarkovica Animal Shelter in Croatia,” writes Ellie Brian from Coventry, England as she aims to raise £500 for the Dubrovnik animal shelter.
With over 350 dogs in the shelter the committed staff are fighting a constant battle with the local authorities to fund food, shelter and staff. The shelter is run by Sandra Sambrailo, who has dedicated her life to the care of stray animals in the region, and a small group of volunteers. In challenging conditions, to say the least, the shelter cares for abandoned dogs and attempts to find them a new home. The new Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, made the animal shelter one of his top priorities but he still has yet to find them a new, more suitable, location. Although he has secured 100 new kennels for the shelter amongst other things. The Dubrovnik animal shelter depends on donations and the commitment of its small staff to survive.
Ellie Brian spent two months volunteering at the shelter and was so touched that she decided to raise money through a sponsored dog walk. “Last year I volunteered at an animal shelter in Dubrovnik that is home to over 350 dogs and one lady who cares for all of them with the help one worker and one regular volunteer. There is no shelter, electricity or running water supply. After seeing the conditions and getting to know all of these wonderful dogs I stayed there in my motorhome for 2 months and wish I had stayed longer,” commented Brian.
The sponsored five-mile dog walk to raise money for the Dubrovnik shelter will take place at Hartshill Haze Country Park in Warwickshire, England on Sunday the 25th of March.
And to sponsor Ellie all you have to do is follow this link. She is hoping to raise £500 for the Dubrovnik animal shelter.
The former military resort of Kupari could well become the location of a Four Seasons hotel. The State Property Minister, Goran Marić, commented the investor in the new development, Avenue Group, would be offered a new set of conditions and that Four Seasons could well be involved with a management contract.
The Minister met with representatives of the investors at the beginning of this week and commented that the meeting was extremely constructive and emphasized that the realisation of the project will begin soon.
"We will offer the investor some new terms and we will propose a contract with the operator and the deadlines in which the investor must submit the contract, “said Marić. It was originally speculated that Marriott would manage the hotels on the future resort but it appears that Four Seasons are now in the driving seat.
The contract with Avenue Group for the realization of the Kupari project was signed at the end of March 2016.
Snow, snow go away come again another day. The historic Old City had a sprinkling of snow, almost like icing sugar over a cake, this morning making it look even more picturesque. The winter scene looked idyllic and was caught by Tonci Plazibat.
In the meantime, the weather conditions have stabilised a little and the vast majority of the snow, apart from on the higher grounds, has melted.
The forecast suggests that more snow will fall tomorrow but then by the end of the week the weather conditions will change and a south wind will bring rain and warmer temperatures.
The Mayor of the City of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, and the President of the City Council, Marko Potrebica, are currently on an official visit to the United States.
On the first day of his official visit to the United States Mayor Franković met with the Mayor of Monterey, Clyde Roberson. This Californian city is a sister city of Dubrovnik and the two mayors talked about the continuation of ten years of friendship and future joint projects.
As an internationally recognized example of good co-operation, the Dubrovnik Half-Marathon was highlighted, as this event in Dubrovnik is greatly assisted by the City of Monterey.
During the meeting ideas for new cultural and sporting events were developed, institutional co-operation through the exchange of employees as well as a student exchange program between the two sister cities in cooperation with the Slavic American Cultural Organization (SACO) from nearby Watsonville.
Mayor Frankovic also addressed representatives of the Croatian community, with significant numbers coming from the area of Dubrovnik and its surroundings, at the annual charity dinner organized by the Slavic American Cultural Organization.