Taking part in the CHF hosted Forum were representatives of the ethnic Croatian communities of Montenegro, Serbia (Vojvodina), Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy (Molise region) and Romania.

The twenty-third symposium of representatives of Croatian minority communities in the countries of Central and southeastern Europe, an event hosted by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, kicked off in Zagreb on the 24th of November. Taking part in the CHF-organised Forum were representatives of the Croatian communities in Montenegro, Serbia (Vojvodina), Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy (Molise region) and Romania.
The focus of this year’s Forum was on Traditional Culture in the Croatian Minority Communities – Past, Present and Future. The gathered participants at the CHF’s main auditorium were first addressed by event moderator Marin Knezović, the head of our department for Croatian minorities abroad. CHF director Mijo Marić then spoke of the idea that minorities contribute to the richness of the broader community and noted that we need to find avenues through which to improve the statuses of our minority communities abroad and the relationships between the majority and minority populations.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was on hand for the opening of the Croatian Minorities Forum. Speaking to the gathered participants she said that the identity and interests of members of the Croatian nation abroad had to be protected, noting that this was Croatia’s obligation and an investment into her development and the survival of the Croatian people. She underlined in particular the importance of preserving the traditional culture of Croatians living in other countries, noting that this heritage was of exceptional value, not only because of its diversity and significance to identity, but also because traditional customs of household and societal life – both religious and secular – often preserve very old linguistic and material content, including some aspects of it we no longer see in Croatia or in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
She underlined the importance of the Croatian diaspora communities in strengthening business sector, cultural and political cooperation between Croatia and their respective countries of residence. She also called on Croatian diplomats to invest more effort in seeing the minority status of those Croatian communities abroad who have yet to be recognised by their domicile countries achieved at the level of good European standards, and at a higher level where possible, i.e. at the level enjoyed by ethnic minorities in Croatia.
Also on hand to welcome the gathered were Zvonko Milas, the state secretary at the helm of the State Office for Croats Abroad, and Zdravka Bušić, the state secretary at the foreign and European affairs ministry.
As part of the Forum schedule CHF deputy director Ivan Tepeš opened the Croazia Art Attack exhibition, showcasing the work of artists in Rome of Croatian extraction.
Event moderator Knezović noted that the objective of this year’s Forum was to discuss the issue of traditional culture as a foundational part of the identity of Croatian minority communities at a time marked by rapid urbanisation and the reduction of the role of the village as the cradle of traditional culture.
Taking part in the first session of the Forum were Antonio Sammartino of the Agostina Piccoli foundation, Zvonimir Deković, the president of the Croatian National Council of Montenegro, Petar Gere, the vice president of the Croatian Unity association of Romania, Anita Đipanov Marjanović of the Croatian National Council of Serbia, and Mijo Stanko of the Federation of Croatian Association of Slovenia.
Participating in the work of this symposium were representatives of national bodies and institutions of the Republic of Croatia, including the foreign and European affairs ministry, the science and education ministry, the State Office for Croats Abroad, the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, and diplomatic representatives of Czechia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Serbia in Croatia. Also participating were the representatives of the Bokelj Navy 809 Fraternity.
The second session of the Forum saw lectures from Jasminka Dulić of NIU Hrvatska riječ (Serbia), Antonella D’Antuono, president of the Jedna Musica association of Molise and representative of the Molise Croatian community in the Croatian Government’s advisory board on Croats abroad, Radoslav Janković of the Croatian Culture Federation of Slovakia, Radio Dux reporter Valentina Andrić speaking on behalf of Vladimir Marvučić of the Sveti Jeronim Croatian Culture Association (Montenegro), Svjetlana Zeković of the Croatians and Friends Union (Montenegro), Tomislav Brguljan of the Croatian Civic Society of Montenegro, and Mate Matarić of the Vladimir Nazor Croatian Culture Association (Sombor). The lectures were followed by an open discussion from the participants.
The representatives of the Croatian communities in the six represented European countries adopted the conclusions of this year’s Forum.

By: Naida Šehović