HOT TOPICS IN APRIL: Croatia’s unemployment drops further; Serbia’s press freedom continues to decline; Russia and Serbia to abolish roaming chargesAdriatic Journal 26 April 2019
Unemployment rate in Croatia drops further in March
Unemployment rate in Croatia to 9.5% in March from 10.2% in February, with 8,600 citizens finding employment during the period, the state statistics bureau reported. The figures showed that at the end of March, there were 1.38m employed persons in Croatia, an increase of 0.6 percent on the month. Most of the employed worked in legal entities. Data from the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), showed there were nearly 146,000 unemployed at the end of March, 6.8% less than in the previous month and 18.1% drop compared to March 2018.
Vis Archipelago added to UNESCO’s list
UNESCO’s executive board had decided to include Croatia’s Vis Archipelago on its Global Geoparks list, alongside seven other new sites in South America, Asia and Europe, according to Agence France-Presse. Vis site is one of the three from Europe. UNESCO explained that all new sites are recognized as locations of great geological diversity. UNESCO’s list now counts 147 parks from 41 countries. Prior to Vis, the Papuk Nature Park was Croatia’s only site on UNESCO’s Global Geoparks list.
Serbia drops 14 places on World Press Freedom Index
Serbia ranked 90th on the list of 180 countries on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, dropping 14 places from the previous year. The report emphasises that since Aleksander Vučić came to power, media freedom has been significantly reduced, and “Serbia has become a place where practicing journalism is neither safe nor supported by the state”. The report warns of a rise in threats and attacks on the media. “The number of attacks on media is on the rise, including death threats, and inflammatory rhetoric targeting journalists is increasingly coming from the governing officials. Many attempts on journalists’ integrity have not been investigated, solved, or punished, and the aggressive smear campaigns that pro-government media orchestrate against investigative reporters are in the full swing,” the report states. In addition, the report notes that although some journalists cover and investigate corrupt practices, but their stories have a limited reach because of “media ownership concentration”. “Collusion between politicians and media, widespread government-tolerated fake news, and a lack of pluralism in the print and broadcast media are also all sources of a big concern,” the report concludes.
Bankruptcy hearing for 3. Maj shipyard delayed again
In April, Rijeka’s commercial court has again adjourned a hearing that would have determined if conditions have been met to launch the 3. Maj dock bankruptcy proceedings, scheduling the next hearing for 5 June. The bankruptcy hearing has been postponed a few times now. The first hearing was due on February 6 but was postponed to February 26, then to March 12 and again to March 28. The explanation for the delay was to allow time to come to an agreement on the payment of wages to shipyard workers and the continuation of production. The total debt of the Rijeka-based shipyard was HRK 134.6m on 16 April while the company’s account has been blocked for more than 220 days. Latest delay comes amid announcements by the prime minister Andrej Plenković and the economy minister Darko Horvat that the Chinese company, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), is interested in becoming a strategic partner in Uljanik and 3. Maj shipyards. A delegation from the world’s largest shipbuilding industry is due to visit the troubled shipyards on Labour Day.
Serbia and Russia to abolish roaming charges
The Russian Federal Anti-Monopole Service (FAS) announced that Moscow and Belgrade are working to abolish roaming charges on calls between the two countries, Beta agency reported. According to a statement from FAS, Anatoly Golomozin, the head of the service, met with representatives from Serbia’s RATEL (Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services) to discuss possibilities of using a mobile phone service between the two countries without additional costs. “We reached an agreement on the exchange of material and information about the rules of indiscriminate access to telecommunication and postal services and work on terminating the roaming between Russia and Serbia,” the statement said.
Serbia has one of the most miserable economies
The Bloomberg Misery Index for 2018 ranks Serbia 10th among 62 countries with “the most miserable economies,” the Beta news agency reported. The Index relies on the concept that low inflation and unemployment generally illustrate the overall prosperity of a country’s citizens. Bloomberg explained that this year’s scores are based on Bloomberg economist surveys, while in the past they were based on the actual data. Latest official figures show the unemployment rate in Serbia was 12.9% in the last quarter of 2018, while inflation measured by consumers’ prices was 1.9% in November compared to the same month in 2017. Despite its low ranking in 2018, it is still better than it was in the previous two years, when Serbia’s economy was ranked seventh in 2016 and eight in 2017. Bloomberg expects that the country’s economy will slightly improve next year. Venezuela has the most miserable economy, mostly due to its hyperinflation, followed by Argentina, South Africa, Turkey and Greece. Ukraine, Spain, Uruguay and Brazil are also ranked worse than Serbia. Countries with the least miserable economies are Thailand, Switzerland and Singapore, according to the Index.