Joining the other heads of leading institutions at the open doors day event was the newly appointed director of the Croatian Heritage Foundation MijoMarićand members of his team.
In the stated political agenda of President KolindaGrabar-Kitarović – since her inaugural address in early 2015 – theCroatian emigrant communities have been mentioned in particular as an important factor in the development of the modern Croatian nation and of the contemporary democratic society of Our Beautiful Homeland. President Grabar-Kitarović promised that she would not allow anyone to ignore the role and contribution of the emigrant communities in achieving Croatian statehood, noting that, “You are an important link the Homeland has with the world, and an important component of ours that will contribute to our national development. Croatia’s doors are wide open to you. Your knowledge and experience is precious to the Homeland. It is up to us in Croatia to offer you a sincere and real opportunity to invest, gain an education and to return to the homeland.”
In her robust foreign policy activity and her numerous personal contacts at the highest state level – from America to Europe – the president has always found time to meet with our people, encouraging them to acquire knowledge abroad and to return to the Croatian homeland.
Following on this policy, on the 21st of July the president’s office opened its doors to Croatian emigrants and the members of indigenous Croatian minority communities in the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe with the objective of reaffirming contemporary Croatian unity at the planetary level and strengthening the developmental potential of the Croatian diaspora.
The president’s advisory council on youth was also at work, staging a round table on the topic of Being a Young Returnee and Living in Croatia.
Joining the president in the discussion were representatives of relevant ministries and other competent institutions and many young returnees from the emigrant communities now living, working or acquiring an education in Croatia.
Joining the other heads of leading institutions at the open doors day event hosted by the office of President Grabar-Kitarović was the newly appointed director of the Croatian Heritage Foundation Mijo Marić and members of his team.
In the evaluation of the integration process to date of the heterogeneous groups comprising the three-million strong Croatian diaspora with society in the country of origin we cannote with satisfaction that critical steps forward have been achieved in terms of human capital in the fields of media, culture, sports, education and science, while the economic sector is, unfortunately, dominated only by the effects of emigrant remittances, rather than by returnee investments. Over the span of just a quarter century, following on the concept of modern Croatia’s first president Franjo Tuđman, we have rounded out the core legal and institutional preconditions needed to build a systematic and effective cooperation with our citizens and their descendants living in over forty countries, from Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego, from Australia and New Zealand to the south of Africa and across the Old Continent and our nearest neighbourhood. Care for the descendants of Croatians living outside the homeland is an integral part of interior and foreign policy since our Croatian independence was regained.
Along with the national strategy in late 2011 a consensus was achieved in Croatian parliament with the adoption of legislation covering relations with Croatians living outside of Our Beautiful Homeland. The State Office for Croats Abroad has been active for five years now, led under the Plenković administration by the accomplished state secretary ZvonkoMilas, whose overall achievements are impressive, coupled with an abundant budget investment awarded via a bidding procedure to the most successful emigrant culture organisations and individuals active in multilingual and multicultural domicile countries from the North to the South Pole. A council for the learning and instruction of Croatian as an inherited language has also been established in the frame of the State Office for Croats Abroad given that the emigrant communities speak over twelve domicile languages.
Along with the wealth of programmes offered by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, which has for over sixty-six years successfully staged some sixty culture and language projects every year, there has also been a strengthening of other capacities in the public sector related to our diaspora, from the network of supplementary Croatian language instruction abroad covered by the science and education ministry, the heritage preserved under the Croatica Abroad project at the National and University Library, to the media presence in the national public radio and television service. Also expected is the convening of the government’s advisory board on Croatians abroad with its newly appointed members. The body pools representatives of Croatian communities in the many distant lands in which Croatians live, deputy ministers, the heads of major national institutions and the director of the Roman Catholic pastoral department for Croatians abroad, which covers 187 Catholic missions working with emigrant and indigenous Croatian communities. Partnership between the Republic of Croatia and the Generation Y diaspora is being built up carefully – reciprocating love, material goods and art donations from emigrants valued in the multi-millions, accessible in prestigious museums and archives from Zagreb to the Ivan Meštrović Gallery in Split or the Maksimilijan Vanka Gallery on the island of Korčula.
The fourth Croatian World Games are ongoing, as is the CHF Little School of Croatian Language and Culture. Just around the corner is the School of Croatian Folklore. These programmes have again drawn many young Croatians from the diaspora communities. Also contributing to the lively summer activities are emigrants spending their holidays in Our Beautiful Homeland and the culture and arts programmes of Croatian indigenous minority culture and arts societies across Central and Southeast Europe and the meetings with CHF staffers at our branch offices in Dubrovnik, Vukovar, Split and Rijeka.
According to the estimates of the World Bank migrant workers sent home some 1.9 billion euros last year, up about 300 million over the previous quarter. Similar figures were produced by domestic analysis of remittances by the statistics department of the Croatian National Bank – their data shows 1.45 billion euro arriving the year before last and 1.76 last year, an evident growth in the number of remittances sent to Croatia from abroad. Foreign currency revenue from the diaspora is second only to revenues from tourism, which stands at 18% of the GDP. Since Croatian joined the European Union there has been a palpable quickening of the process of emigration, with some two hundred thousand people moving abroad, most well educated. Paradoxically, contemporary mobility is a powerful engine of development and a deceptive opportunity and it is believed that people are leaving in search of a better life.
Migration is currently one of the leading global challenges facing humanity. Unlike in the past, when countries ignored their diasporas, the contemporary tendency in relations between countries of origin and the diaspora have been significantly improved and modern mobile societies now see great human capital in their emigrant populations. Without a doubt, the development potential of the Croatian diaspora has a four-century long continuity, and this meeting with the president will give it a strong impetus.
By: Vesna Kukavica