People across Europe and beyond have heard the call from the natural disaster hitting the Balkans, digging deep in their pockets to support flood victims in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.
Truck loads of nappies, shoes, hygiene products, tinned food and bottled water have been driven across the continent from countries including England, Sweden and Germany, taking much-needed relief to the thousands who have been made homeless by the deluge.
The European Union has promised substantial aid to benefit those in immediate need and to prevent future flooding, while countries including Norway, Austria, Russia, Belarus, Romania and the Netherlands have sent financial or physical aid.
So far, the British Government has not announced any financial donation, although experts anticipate that support from the UK will come when it is required for the clean up and rebuild of the country.
The European Union will not be complete until it can admit the Balkan states, Croatian President Ivo Josipović said while in London for talks with the British Government ahead of his country’s EU accession on 1 July.
“Definitely Europe will not be complete without other south east European countries,’ he said during a visit to London, ahead of Croatia’s accession to the EU on 1 July. “We are going to bring interesting cultural heritage and some natural beauty. We are going to bring a society of goodwill. I think that is very important.
“Croatia will help because we are connected with those countries, historically, culturally, politically. We are not burdened by an enormous weight of crime, we have a very open society who accepts foreigners, especially during the touristic season, and finally but not least, we are some kind of road to the south east. So I think Europe will benefit from our accession.”
Saying no to junk food in favour of hours in the gym seems to have paid off for Slovenian sports student Marko Šobot, as he has placed among the front runners for the final of the Mister International contest. Now it will all come down to the final, on Saturday, when Marko will see if the preparation has paid off and he can take home the title to Slovenia.
For catwalk new-comer Marko, 26, being part of the international contest underway in Thailand is a world away from his hometown of Novo Mesto. “It felt surreal when I first heard that I was to compete at Mister International,’ he said.
“I think that I had a smile on my face probably for one week straight. But after that, I trained every day and tried to eat properly. I even stayed away from junk food restaurants. If I happened to break my diet, which did happen occasionally, the next day I trained twice as hard to compensate.”
If determination, commitment and focus were as important to achieving success as fitness, strength and form, Croat Vanja Grgec would be quids in to win whatever he set his mind on.
This Saturday, the 25-year-old personal trainer from Zagreb will have the perfect chance to show that he has what it takes to be a winner, when he steps out onto the stage to represent Croatia at the Mr World contest.
But Vanja is keen to say that he has not been swayed by the lure of the catwalk. “I am not a model,’ he said. “The only modelling I did was just a favour for a friend and was free of charge. I entered Mr World Croatia because I knew that with my education I could not just win, but that I could actually use it to better my life by combining my good looks with the person that I am. But if a good offer comes by, I am definitely open for modelling too.”