This year’s twentieth Forum pooled eleven heads of Croatian minority associations from seven European countries – they adopted constructive conclusions following a full day of discussion and with the support of competent homeland ministries and institutions.

The Croatian Heritage Foundation organised and hosted, in Zagreb on November 14th, the twentieth Croatian Minorities Forum, an expert gathering pooling representatives of Croatian minority communities in Montenegro, Italy, Hungary, Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia and representatives of the competent national authorities and institutions of the Republic of Croatia. Unable to attend, unfortunately, were representatives of our minorities in Austria and Romania. Not all Croatian minority communities have succeeded in achieving their minority status in their domicile countries, and they are still not recognised by Slovenia and Macedonia, while the Croatians in Molise have only been recognised by Italy as a linguistic minority. The Croatians of Vojvodina succeeded in securing their rights in 2002 and, thanks to the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians, is successful in preserving, promoting and advancing these rights. This year’s gathering also saw announcements of pending changes in the leadership of our minority communities in Hungary and Slovenia.
The first Croatian Minorities Forum was organised back in 1996, at a time when only printed copies of the Croatian Minorities Forum Herald and its participants can bear witness to the event. The Forums of the 21st century were topically clearly defined and can be found on the Internet.
The topic of this year’s Forum was: The cultural heritage of Croatian minorities in European countries is an integral part of Croatian cultural heritage – how the Republic of Croatia can contribute to its preservation.
The chief introducer and moderator of the gathering was Mario Bara DSc, an assistant at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies in Zagreb. The working segment of the programme was dedicated to the opportunities and challenges in the preservation of the cultural heritage of Croatian minorities and included presentations of the representatives of Croatian minority communities and deliberation among all of the participants.
Everyone on hand was welcomed by Croatian Heritage Foundation director Marin Knezović. Also on hand to welcome the participants of this jubilee Forum were Milan Bošnjak, head of the sector for the implementation of the programmes and projects of Croatians abroad and Vladimir Lončarević, assistant advisor to the President of the Republic for internal policy.
Marija Hećimović, the head of our department for indigenous Croatian minorities, spoke of the past twenty years of the Croatian Minorities Forum.
On hand to present their perception of the protection, evaluation, recording and presentation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage were Tomislav Žigmanov, Petar Antunović, Radoslav Janković, Antonio Sammartino, Franjo Ipša, Mišo Hepp and Zvonimir Deković. The gathering was also addressed by Member of Croatian Parliament Ante Babić, a member of the parliamentary committee on Croatians Abroad, and Ranka Saračević Wurt from the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The presentations were followed by a constructive discussion among the minority and homeland representatives: Marin Knezović, Zvonimir Deković, Tomislav Žigmanov, Ivan Gugan, Petar Antunović, Radoslav Janković, Josip Forjan, Irena Miholić, Jadranka Grbić Jakopović, Petar Kuštra and Vesna Kukavica.
The participants of this year’s Forum in Zagreb were: Zvonimir Deković, president of the Croatian National Council of Montenegro from Tivat; Antonio Sammartino, president of the Agostina Piccoli Foundation from Italy; Mišo Hepp, Croatian spokesperson in the Hungarian parliament and Ivan Gugan, president of the Croatian Minority Self-Government in Budapest; Franjo Ipša, president of the Croatian Community in Macedonia in Skopje; Radoslav Janković, president of the Croatian Culture Federation of Slovakia; Marija Broszova, vice-president of the Croatian Culture Federation of Slovakia from Hrvatski Jandrof; Petar Antunović, president of the Federation of Croatian Associations of Slovenia in Ljubljana and Ivo Tijan, president of the executive committee of the Croatian Association of Ljubljana; Darko Sarić Lukendić, president of the Executive Committee of the National Council of the Croatian National Minority and Tomislav Žigmanov, director of the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians in Subotica.
National authorities and institutions in the Republic of Croatia were represented by officials from the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia, Croatian Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the State Office for Croats Abroad, the Pastoral Directorate for Croatians Abroad, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the Croatian Institute for History, the Institute for Ethnology and Folklore Research, the Ivo Pilar Institute, the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the City of Zagreb Institute for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Monuments and the National & University Library. Also accepting invitations to participate in the work of the Forum were the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia, representatives of the Austrian and Hungarian embassies and of the Croatian embassy in Belgrade.
This year’s twentieth Forum pooled eleven heads of Croatian minority associations from seven European countries, whose conclusions were adopted following a full day of discussion.

Text by: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek; Photos by: Snježana Radoš