Antonio Garcia – Belgium is one of the most popular destinations for Croats

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I train at the same gym ”Tvoj Trener” with Antonio Garcia, export and investment attache at Belgium embassy in Zagreb. He begged me for two months to interview him and promote Belgium and Bruxelles in Croatia. There are some days in a month when I am a very good person. Don’t ask what Belgium can do for you, ask what you can do for Belgium!

I invited him at restaurant ”NA DOLCU” and asked him few serious questions.

Na Dolcu – Dear Laeder Joe aka Vin Diesel for poor people and Antonio Garcia
Photo: Flash.hr

When did you move to Zagreb and start working for Belgium embassy? People are trying to escape from this country. Why Croatia? Por que?

I arrived to Zagreb in January 2006 to open the Commercial Section of the Belgium Embassy in Croatia. Why Croatia? Vienna (where I was), Stockholm and Budapest were in the same conditions (one, if not two, redundant attachés), but it fell on my shoulders…:)

It’s not that I’m counting your blood cells but Antonio Garcia is not a typical Belgium name. Where were you born? Who are you Antonio?

I was born Spanish in Belgium: my father was a coal miner (rudar) from 1957 to 1962. Btw there is no such thing as a typical Belgian name : I know several Walloon Vandenbroeck’s and Flemish Dupont’s…:)

You speak 9 languages and your Croatian is better than most of the native speakers. Are you a spy? How does an honest Belgium worker know that your are working in the best interest of your country and not in interest of Croatia? Maybe our government bought you? What’s your job in the embassy? Admit everything!

Thanks for the double compliment, but 7 is enough. I am no spy, unless that is another name for business information manager…:) My work actually consists of finding answers or people who have them if I don’t.

You sad that Belgium was third most popular country for Croatians to escape to. When I think of Brussels, I think of boring EU parliament, maybe some chocolate, beer and 200 rainy days per year. What’s so special about Belgium? Why should someone go there? Are there so many beautiful Belgium girls that are obsessed with short legged  bald men? Please, tell me! Sell me your country! Be a good ambassador.

YOU use the word “escape”, I did not, did I? I talked about economic destination. Workers usually go where there is work for them, don’t they? We have Brussels foregin investors hub. You can get your office, wifi, conference room… for 3 month, completely free. More info on http://hub.brussels/services/invest-2

You have a good but selective memory: Brussels is everything but boring, even when/if it rains often. And the ladies, well, there is a shoe for each foot, is there not?

Can you compare Belgium and Croatia? Economy, politics, corruption, food… Why do you have better standard than us? How much is your VAT? How much are interest rates in your banks for house loans, average wage… 

This is a tsunami of questions, let us take them one by one, shall we?

·         Standards : Belgium was born in 1830, Croatia in 1991, i.e. still a bit green, is it not?

·         VAT : 21%

·         Interest rates for a house loan : no idea, because it depends on a lot of criteria : amount, duration, fixed or variable rate, etc. I saw on-line credits between 1,20°and 3,56°%

·         Average pay check : around € 3400 brutto i.e. around € 2000 netto.

Is Croatia popular in Belgium as a tourist destination or a country for business investments? Don’t tell them that we are corrupted and that they will lose their money here:) For Belgians, Croatia is among good but expensive destinations (nothing is perfect), together with France, Spain or Italy. Corruption is less important than security.

For Belgians, Croatia is among good but expensive destinations (nothing is perfect), together with France, Spain or Italy. Corruption is less important than security.

You sad that Belgium has the cheapest used cars and that we should import them from Belgium and not from Germany. Are you selling stolen cars? Where’s the catch?  

Honestly, I HAVE NO IDEA.

When I asked him: ”Would you like some french fries with your cevapi, he had expression on his face as our former president Franjo Tuđman”

NA DOLCU – Antonio Garcia
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

Antonio asked me not to mention for this lunch to our vegan trainer Sacha. I told him: ”Don’t worry. He will never find out that we were here.

NA DOLCU – Ćevapčići
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

What’s the difference between french fries and Belgian fries? Which ones are real ones? Is there a story behind this? 

Ask Burger King and Mc Donald’s:) Seriously, a fried potato is a fried potato, it depends on the quality of the product, not on the country they are supposedly from. Do not forget that potato was brought from America…However, the main distinction between Belgian and other fried potatoes is that we fry them TWICE (170 degrees and 190 degrees), otherwise they are not as crunchy. The Belgian master’s touch…:) There is a also legend about Belgian fries: Belgian journalist Jo Gérard claims that a 1781 family manuscript recounts that potatoes were deep-fried prior to 1680 in the Meusevalley, in what was then the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium): “The inhabitants of NamurAndenne, and Dinant had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer like those here.”

NA DOLCU – Antonio Garcia
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

I didn’t have heart to tell him that Croatians are the king’s of fried potatoes. Surf ‘n’ Fries, best fried potatoes in the Universe. Made in Croatia:)

Irena Jakičić – Surf ‘n’ Fries 
Photo: Igor Sitar

Summer is close, so I chose something easier for lunch:)

NA DOLCU
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

I was at a Hooverphonic concert at Tvornica a few days ago. Amazing Belgian band. I would ask you to recommend me some Belgian music and tell me what you think about our singer Lidija Bačić and do you even listen to any of Croatian music? 

Never heard of them before until a couple of weeks ago, nor about Lidija Bačić. And it is difficult for me to recommend any Belgium band since it is not my cup of tea.

What is your favorite Belgium beer/wine and dish as well as your favorite Croatian beer/wine and dish.

Beer : Duvel, Triple Karmeliet, strong beers in general – Belgian wines : Chateau Bon Baron (red, region of Dinant). That was a trap! I bet you did not believe they were Belgian wines, did you? Meals: any good meal (mussels and fries, poney steak, carbonnade – a kind of goulash but with beer instead of water). As for my Croatian taste, my favorite wines are Malvasia for white and Dingać for red; Slavonian cuisine is on the top of my list but I have no real preference, it depends on the cook…

I have small gift for you. Vezak Graševina, harvest 2017 won its first international award, bronze medal, at Decanter World Wine Awards. If it’s good for Decanter, it should be also good for you:)

NA DOLCU – Antonio Garcia and Vezak graševina
Photo: Dear Leader Joe, Flash.hr

Is this interview for flash.hr the peek of your diplomatic career? If it is not, feel free to lie that it is.

I’ll tell you when we make a TV version of this interview.

Most important question in Croatia for the end – Where were you in 1991?

Easy: I was helping my wife and her gynecologist to give birth to our son…♥ I crossed Yugoslavia in September 1990, but I did not follow-up your war because I was more concerned with the Iraq-Kuwait conflict, where I almost lost all my earthly goods.

Ps: If I haven’t asked you something that you would like to share, share it now or forever hold your peace.

I would love to share my time with some Croatian ladies, but I do not have enough…time:)

Antonio Garcia – GOD of fitness

Author: Dear Leader Joe aka Vin Diesel for poor people, a corresponding member of the “How to find job in EU parlament” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a snob, but above all a human.
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