Renato Krulčić: Pazin is a vibrant town, oriented toward green and smart solutions

Renato Krulčić: Pazin is a vibrant town, oriented toward green and smart solutions

Interview with the Мayor of Pazin in Croatia

Renato Krulčić was born in Pazin on 1 June 1970. After completing education in Croatia and Slovenia, he became involved in politics in 1992.

Since 1993 he has been a member of the Istrian Democratic Assembly. From 2000 to 2009, Mr Krulčić was employed in the Municipality of Gračišće as the head of the Administrative Department.

He began his more active involvement in the public life of the town of Pazin as president of the town council in 2005, and since 2006 he has been a member of the town government and а deputy mayor for 3 years. Then he assumed the mayoral responsibilities in 2009. Winning another mandate in the 2017 local elections confirmed the success of his government.

Pazin is called the “Heart of Istria”. Photo by Pazin Municipality 

Mayor Krulčić, please present to our auditory Pazin in a few sentences.

Pazin is the administrative center of the Istria County and because of its central position and importance on the Istrian Peninsula it came to be called the “Heart of Istria”. The fascinating picture of the medieval Castle of Pazin (Kaštel), situated on the 130-metres cliffs where the Pazinčica River flows into the Pazin Pit, inspired the renowned French writer Jules Verne as the setting for part of his novel “Mathias Sandorf”, published in 1885.

Today, Pazin is a vibrant town, oriented toward green and smart solutions, and attracting businesses in sustainable greenfield and brownfield investments. Our economic zones offer great business opportunities with excellent infrastructure already in place and the municipality supports investors right from the start of their projects, as a reliable business partner should do.

Although tourism is not the main economic activity we are also progressively developing as an all-year eco-friendly destination where one can experience authentic flavors of the local enogastronomy, re-live forgotten traditions, relax, find peace and mindfulness.

Pazin has become a pioneer of energy transition in the fight against climate change. What steps has the municipality taken in this direction?

The Town of Pazin has been thinking and acting "green" since 2010 when it became one of the signatories to the Energy Charter, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewable energy sources to 20% and increase energy efficiency by 20%. In 2013, the town became a member of the "Covenant of Mayors" and in the same period drafted an Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Development, which undertakes to implement measures to reduce CO2 in the household, transport, and public infrastructure sector.

Between 2015 and 2019, along with 5 other Istrian towns, Pazin implemented the Life SEC Adapt project within which the "Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy" was signed, based on which the Strategy and Plan for Climate Change Adaptation was developed. In addition to this important document, numerous activities that contribute to green thinking, energy efficiency, and reduction of  CO2 emissions are being carried out, such as the organization of "Energy Days" for three consecutive years, informational campaigns for citizens on the topic of energy efficiency, and continuous cooperation with the Croatian Green Building Council and the Green Energy Cooperative.

Croatia has been a member of the EU for only a few years, but your municipality has already managed to implement very successful EU funded projects. How they have improved the quality of life in Pazin?

EU-funded projects have greatly contributed to the improvement of life quality in Pazin. In fact, since joining the Union, the Municipality has managed to fund close to 5.3 million euros worth of projects, mainly in the sectors of sustainable waste management, infrastructure, business development and education.   

We managed to become one of the first places in Croatia which has remediated all its non-hazardous waste landfills. Our goal was to reduce detrimental impacts on the environment of the landfill, especially the pollution of surface waters, groundwaters, soil, and air, including the emission of greenhouse gases, and to reduce the risks for human health that could arise in the process of depositing waste.

Since 2018 there has been no landfill disposal in the wider municipal area, and waste is transported to our regional Waste Management Centre for further treatment. Moreover, through electronic user cards that log every time waste is disposed of, all our citizens can determine the amount of their waste management bills. 

With EU funds we managed to reconstruct and extend the main municipal kindergarten "Olga Ban" and allow for our youngest citizens to enjoy adequate space for growth and development.

In order to support businesses and entrepreneurs, the PazinUP Business Incubator was built and equipped, for which Pazin had received European Regional Development funds. In addition to the favorable lease of office space, entrepreneurs are offered the option to rent a fully equipped multifunctional hall and the consulting services of our Development Agency.

Additionally, for many years, Pazin has been trying to encourage talents and support existing entrepreneurs in their areas of operation through annual support programs for entrepreneurship. Aid varies and adjusts over the years depending on market needs; from support to newly established companies and crafts, support for the preparation and candidacy for EU projects, support for new employment and self-employment, subsidizing the costs of taking professional and vocational exams, reducing the rent of business premises owned by the Town of Pazin, etc.

These are only some of the projects funded in recent years by EU funds and without which it would be very difficult to reach the life standard that our citizens enjoy currently.

Please tell us more about the business Incubator PazinUP and the project "Inclusive School 5+".

The most important social initiatives in recent years have been the recently opened business Incubator PazinUP and the project Inclusive School 5+, which finances the work of teaching assistants for students with disabilities. The Incubator project wanted to solve the lack of adequate supporting entrepreneurial infrastructure for start-ups and young entrepreneurs but also for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (SME).

Within the Incubator users were provided with general and specialized infrastructure, equipment and related services needed by young companies in their initial steps to consolidate their business and provide sufficient capacity to continue operating in the market. The infrastructure capacity of the Incubator consists of seven spatial-functional units, five of which are offices for entrepreneurs, and the others are a manager's office, and a multi-purpose hall.

The main goal of this project was to strengthen the capacities of start-ups and young entrepreneurs at any level of their business projects and simultaneously stir interest among the public and other businesses for the use of incubator services.

The “Inclusive School 5+” project is based on the principles of inclusive education which value the unique contributions students of all backgrounds bring to the classroom and allow diverse groups to grow side by side, to the benefit of all. The project supports the inclusion of all children in regular schools, regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic, or other conditions.

It is extremely important to include children with disabilities in the regular educational system. So, this project aims to provide teaching assistants and professional communication mediators to students with disabilities in primary education institutions. The Pazin Municipality started with the implementation of the project in 2017 in cooperation with the towns of Labin, Poreč, Rovinj and Umag. 

Over the last three years, with the help the "Inclusive Schools 5+" project, more than 70 students with disabilities have received the necessary assistance, and over 100 assistants and experts have gotten jobs.

How has the municipality been faring in the Covid-19 crisis?

The year 2020 will surely be remembered as the year of the beginning of the global epidemic of COVID-19, the consequences of which will only be visible in the upcoming years in all segments of life. In addition to the instructions of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the Town of Pazin, together with nearby municipalities, had a series of meetings with the local headquarters for civilian protection to discuss the best possible solutions to protect the health and well-being of citizens.

The result was that in Istria, and especially in Pazin, the number of COVID-19 cases has been very small for which we should also thank our responsible citizens who recognized that conscientious action and compliance with epidemiological measures and guidelines can help protect not only them but also their environment.

Children did not go to kindergarten, schools were closed, and classes were held online, most citizens did work from home, while only a small part had to do public work, being at the service of others. Solidarity and togetherness came to the fore. Volunteers, the Red Cross, members of the police and fire brigade, and health workers were extremely committed to provide the best service to the citizens in need.

On the other hand, the epidemic unfortunately had a negative impact on certain branches of the economy, especially in the sectors of trade, hospitality, sports, and culture. In order to recover the economy as soon as possible, the Town of Pazin and the municipalities of the wider Pazin area were among the first to adopt several packages of measures to help the business sector to encourage job retention, but also to solve the problem of illiquidity. 

The set of measures to help citizens included exemption from paying kindergarten and extra school services, the postponement of utility bills payment, interest-free payment of utility contributions for up to 6 months, exemption from paying tax on the use of public space, 50% reduction on the monthly lease of business premises owned by the Pazin municipality, etc.  

What are your thoughts on TheMayor.EU portal as a unifying platform for Europe’s municipalities and how can it be useful to you and your citizens?

We believe TheMayor.EU portal is a great channel for communication between European citizens and local authorities as well as between the local governments themselves, as the portal provides access to information about what is taking place in the European Union, especially focusing on the implementation of good practices. We find the portal helpful in presenting the latest local news, important events, and innovations.

What are the main goals that you are planning to work on in the near future to make Pazin a better place to live in?

In the near future, the two main goals of the town administration and myself, as the mayor, are the 5 million-euro worth construction of a new retirement home for the care and support of our elderly citizens and the 6.9 million-euro worth reconstruction and implementation of a new, modern-looking central bus station which will greatly improve mobility in the context of sustainable development in Central Istria.

To find out more about Pazin, visit the profile of the town.



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