The conference was staged as part of the programme of the 2nd Zagreb Business Summit, an event held under the high patronage of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and of the Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić.

Vice John Batarelo DSc, a returnee from Australia, opened the event with an introductory speech on behalf of Croatian Parliament’s Committee on Croatians Abroad. He spoke of the former political and state regime when the Diaspora community was not permitted to engage in the societal and political situation in the homeland.
Marin Sopta DSc, a returnee from Canada, said that the Croatian Government should demonstrate greater responsibility in its policy towards the emigrant communities. He noted the need to change the culture policy with regard to the emigrant communities, the need for concrete and equitable cooperation with the Croatian emigrant communities, the need to set up centres or institutes responsible for Croatian language and culture learning around the world, and the need to network these organisations with existing Croatian research/scientific institutions. He also noted that it was necessary that the state provide support in the organisation of events on the topic of Croatian culture around the world, for example at Croatian film festivals with translations into foreign languages, and a more robust support of print and new media.
Croatian member of EU parliament Davor Ivo Stier pointed out the fact that Croatia has a wealth of experience in receiving and caring for refugees. During the Homeland War in which Croatia defended its independence it also cared for over 500 thousand refugees from occupied parts of Croatia and from Bosnia-Herzegovina, while today there is discussion at the European Union level on an influx of just 160 thousand refugees. He reminded that Croatia has in the past seen both economic and political migration and noted that serious policymaking should not deliberate on whether or not to accept refugees, rather that it should make serious preparations to resolve the issue as Croatia will in the future become a country into which refugees will come rather than one people flee from.
Stipe Puđa, Frankfurt editor of the foreign issue of the Večernji list daily newspaper, Ivana Rora, head of marketing at the Croatian Heritage Foundation and Ivo Kujundžić, editor of Croatian public broadcaster HRT’s A Look Over the Border – Croatians in Bosnia-Herzegovina show spoke about the attitude of the media towards the Croatian emigrant communities, public opinion and the image of the Croatian emigrant communities they foster in the homeland.
There was great interest at the conference for a panel discussion on the economy led by Don Markušić, a returnee from Australia, a lawyer and the president of the Asia-Pacific Chamber of Commerce. The panel discussion was an opportunity to present the members of the chamber, the ambassadors of Indonesia, Korea, Australia and Malaysia, and their concrete investment and economic activity in Croatia. Susan Cox, the Australian ambassador, emphasised that Australia nurtures its relationship with and supports the Croatian emigrant community, which is reflected in the support of Croatians in Australia for their homeland.
Ante Lučić, a young returnee to Croatia, presented Cronnection, which establishes collaboration with the Croatian emigrant communities through education and career mobility. He explained the project’s functionality using his own case as an example and an example of the state investing in the education of youth at leading education institutions around the world with a requirement to return to Croatia and an offer of employment in the national administration following the education to the benefit of our society as a whole.
Jure Vujić spoke of the geopolitical aspects of emigration. We are now a member state of the European Union and many of our emigrant communities are part of a common market. A lecture was given by Rebeka Mesarić Žabčić DSc on research/scientific diplomacy and the importance of engaging independent and recognised scientists in the development of all segments of the national administration.
At the conference CHF director Marin Knezović MSc represented the Croatian Heritage Foundation as an institution with an impressive sixty-year track record of working for the emigrant communities.
Establishing a foundation from which to create a new image of the Croatian emigrant communities in the homeland and a new relationship with the homeland, the presentation of the second and third generation of researchers/scientists and business people who have invested in the Croatian economy for years now and live abroad or are returnees, and stimulating the economic activity of Croatian emigrants where the core topics of a conference on the emigrant communities staged in Zagreb this Friday by organiser LUX, an independent event organisation agency. The conversation among the gathered at the conference on the topic of the emigrant communities and returnees focused on Irresistible Croatia, Fusion and to come together within the year with the state level – which would mean that the Croatian Government has recognised the conclusions of the conference and has initiated a new policy of actively supporting Croatians living abroad and is collaborating on all levels.

Photos by: Mirko Cvjetko

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