British Council Hosts First Event of Welcome Croatia Festival

Welcome Croatia Festival

The House of Lords of the British Parliament ratified Croatia’s Treaty of Accession with the European Union on Monday, 21 January 2013.

The House of Lords’ ratification of Croatia’s accession treaty is the final step in the British parliamentary procedure, but in order for the ratification process to be formally completed in Great Britain, Queen Elisabeth must sign the document.

Croatia’s accession treaty has so far been ratified by 21 EU member states, with Slovenia, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands yet to do so. All of these with the exception of Slovenia have started the process but some countries have made it clear that they will wait for the final European Commission (EC) comprehensive report scheduled for March to see if Croatia has completed the ten tasks set in the last EC report in October 2012“.

Slovenia is looking more and more as the EU member state intent on making Croatia’s final lap on the EU membership circuit a bitter and difficult one.  And it’s all about money!
The dispute revolves around issues of how to settle the €172m owed to Croatian depositors by the Slovenian-based Yugoslav-era Ljubljanska Banka (Bank of Ljubljana). Bank of Ljubljana was a strong brand across Yugoslavia, but as the country unravelled in the early 1990s, Bank of Ljubljana swiftly pulled out of Croatia, and gave depositors only a brief window to claim their cash. This left more than 130,000 Croatians, as well as many Bosnians, with their savings locked in Slovenia. As a result, many launched legal proceedings against LB and its legal successor, New Bank of Ljubljana.
Since then, Slovenia has maintained that the dispute should be settled as part of the succession negotiations on the former Yugoslavia, overseen by the Bank of International Settlements, which aim to resolve a number of such disputes across the region. Croatia, meanwhile, insisted that the issue was a bilateral one, between a bank and its customers, and between Croatia and Slovenia. Croatia still holds that position and Croatian citizens who had had their savings thus looted await eagerly the return of their money.
So, while Slovenia threatens to block Croatia’s EU membership (all EU member states must ratify Croatia’s EU Accession Treaty) one wonders whether EU leadership will continue tolerating such insolent behaviour from one of it’s member states – Slovenia? All things fair, ratification of Croatia’s EU Accession Treaty does not involve disputes about money owed by a state – it involves the ratifying member state’s satisfaction with the level of changes Croatia has made in order to satisfy standards of the EU when it comes to legislation, human rights, civil rights, anti-corruption etc.
While all this uneasiness and sabre rattling with Slovenia is happening, British Council is throwing a “welcome to EU party” for Croatia; the festival to run from February to July 1st, in London.

The British Council is proud to host The UK/Croatia Extra/ordinary Design Workshops, an exhibition in partnership with the Croatian Ministry of Culture. It marks the first event of Welcome Croatia, a festival led by the British-Croatian Society in cooperation with the Croatian Ministry of culture to mark Croatia’s accession to the EU.
The exhibition is the result of Extra/ordinary Design Workshops, a partnership developed by the British Council Croatia between the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, the Croatian Designers Association and the School of Design, University of Zagreb. It will run from 7th – 27th January 2013 at the British Council, Spring Gardens.
The Extra/ordinary Design project has used UK expertise in design to create an inclusive process working with organisations run by, employing or educating socially marginalised groups. All of the workshops have shared the same aim: to use mainstream design and collaborative ways of working to strategically transform the situation of these organisations and to redress their creative capacity in challenging economic times.
Workshops led by Julia Cassim, senior designer from the Royal College of Art took place in Croatia in 2011 and 2012 with design teams working with local organisations such as ZVONO, a creative centre for young people with learning difficulties. The work produced went onto win the Grand Prix a D (Design) Day in May 2011; before receiving the international jury prize at the biennale Exhibition of Croatian Design in September 2012 and an award from the Network for Development and Creativity in November of that year.
The Welcome Croatia festival will celebrate the vibrant cultural life of Croatia through a series of events and exhibitions, which will run from February until 1st July, the date when Croatia officially ascends to the EU.
The UK/Croatia Extra/ordinary Design Workshops exhibition will give UK audiences the opportunity to see the UK-Croatia partnership at work: building trust between people, institutions and our two countries and helping young people develop skills in tough economic conditions“.

Check out Welcome Croatia Festival on Facebook
And the festival’s website

If you know of young or older people who are looking for a brief summary on the breakup of Yugoslavia and subsequent journeys of different states of former Yugoslavia to EU membership, check out this video:


  1. Welcome to the N.W.O… Croatia. You have gone through many tragedies historically and now you have added to the list.

    • Not there yet EPO – hanging in the balance – and if NWO is all about the money Slovenia might just win this round as it’s already in there. Many wont shed tears in Croatia if that happens and it’ll hopefully be sobering for those who think that EU will solve all their problems. Croatia must look after itself first.

      • Out of the frying pan and into the fire! Will we ever wake up and smell the coffee? As a nation, we seem to think that we are powerless, that we cannot control our own destiny. Perhaps it is because, throughout our history, we have depended on foreign alliances to defend us, to foster us and to shield us from the outside world. At times we entered into these arrangements willingly and at other times we were forced into them. Our history is full of such examples. From the Pacta Conventa with Hungary in 1102 – to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia under Serbian king Peter in 1918 -to March 25, 1941 and the Serbian king signing the Tripartite Pact with Germany and the Axis powers – to the military coup a few days later by which the Serbs installed a new Regent -to the German air attack on Belgrade, April 6, 1941-to the declaration of an Independent State of Croatia on April 10, 1941 -to Nov.29, 1945 and the declaration of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia – to the second battle for Croatian Statehood 1991-95 and here we are today 2013 on the verge of signing our sovereignty away AGAIN! While under Tito and his band of Communists, Croatian identity, cultur,and nationality was vigorously expunged and replaced with some kind of pan-Slavic, multiethnic concoction called” Yugoslavian “, and here we are on the verge of adopting a pan-Euro, multiethnic concoction called “European Union”. I don’t believe that as a people we are comfortable in our own skins – we are constantly searching for outside, foreign validation of who and what we are – we are so afraid of appearing to be unworthy. Maybe that’s it – maybe we as a nation do not know who we are – maybe we are too uncomfortable examining ourselves and our past – maybe we do not want to confront our common history in an effort to try and come to terms with it. So, how has it been working for us so far? Because clearly, we haven’t been confronting our past – there has never been an attempt by any Croatian govt. since our nation’s rebirth to address the ‘elephant in the room’- all are quite happy to let the dead lie in their mass graves without so much as a cross to mark their final resting places – all are content to keep living in somekind of fantasy land where former Partisan’s names adorn street signs in every major city in Croatia but the mere mention of former Ustase brings every rat out of his hole screaming a plethora of well-used Communist axioms in order to drown out the possibility of serious dialogue. There is an inequality which is obvious to all but there is such resistance to address it. The only way that time will heal our wounds is if we deal with the past – admit to equal responsibility for any wrongdoings committed – agree to disagree, if need be, and move forward. Only then can we even hope to create a better future for ourselves and our nation – be that independently or within a confederation of European states.

  2. Well, this may sound like a naive question, but I am intrigued: If, which it all seems quite possible, that the only country left to sign Croatia’s accession treaty happens to be Slovenia, will they then bow under the pressure from the rest of the EU? It seems odd, but obviously likely, that they would not join in after major EU members do so. Thanks Ina!

    • There are three or four more eatingthepages, but Slovenia is the only one that has not yet even commenced the process of discussing ratification while the others are well on the way. It seems that Slovenia would need to bow under pressure – I don’t even know how they have been allowed to pussyfoot around the issue that has nothing to do with ratification topics for this long. A case pf blackmail it seems – Slovenia has done a similar thing, because of borders with Croatia, fishing rights & what not and had delayed Croatia’s accession negotiations for years. We’ll watch this space with interest. Cheers!

  3. Michael Silovic says:

    Nicely worded velebit. I agree100% with what you are saying. I am not really looking forward to Croatia entering the Eu and never have because I know the outcome for our people.One thing I am grateful for is that we are not changing our currency to the euro. when this happens it will be devastating to our people especially the seniors. while many people think that going into the EU is a good thing I see it differently.Our country will be flooded with 3rd world immigrants that will be dumped on our door steps by the EU and we will then have a crisis that will ruin our ethnicity and culture. We see the problems the rest of the EU has with all of their refugees that they do not know how to handle. What will Croatia do as a small country compared to other countries in the EU. If the Croatian goverment wants to start accepting approval from other countries perhaps it should start seeking the approval of the diaspora worldwide first to gain the respect of its own people first.

    • Don’t worry Michael, nobody will be dumping immigrants here whilst we live in the poverty we do, they don’t want to come here now.
      As for seeking the approval of the diaspora! What the hell for? The diaspora are foreigners to us, like it or not. If you want to be Croat and help build our state then great, but we don’t really care what you think.

      • I hope you’re speaking for yourself Pavao and maybe few, not overall. I totally disagree that the diaspora are foreigners to Croatia, and if they are then that is a sad picture of a nation which in its history chased people out into emigration from political AND economic reasons. Life in diaspora has certainly not been easy for many – the reality is that after Tudjman’s death the Racan, Mesic, Sanader clans did everything to estrange the diaspora – again and there’s not much in sight on Croatian side to remedy this. Which is detrimental to Croatia at the end of the day.

      • Oh, right, Pavao it’s not like the diaspora fought against Yugoslavian/Serbian aggression on Croats during Tito’s regime and the 90s. It’s not like some Croatians were pretty much forced to flee the country due to their opposition to the government and had to work from the diaspora to actually create awareness of the crimes of the totalitarian regime forced upon Croatians.

        Perhaps we should just stop giving a shit about you and watch Croatia fall apart while sitting comfortably on our ass and laughing at the misery of our family, friends and fellow people? Since solidarity for a common goal apparently means nothing to Croatians, I think we’ve found a solution to the nation’s problems – let’s all stop caring and watch our culture fall apart. Hey, at least it’s easier than doing something productive for the common good.

      • Maybe my choice of words was not the best, I apologise for that, but you must realise that Tito, Raćan etc are no longer the issue for most Croats. What happened in the past to create the diaspora is no longer relevant to paying the gas bill which has become the overriding concern of most people in these hard times. The communist era has gone and, like any other totalitarian regime, it has left behind many unsettled issues and Serbia isn’t going to invade anybody, Croatia has changed, it has moved on, we are real people, we are not some idealised land seeking to recover some lost nirvana in the past. We want to pay our gas bills, it’s cold, that’s all.

      • I understand that Pavao, but Croatia has not moved on as much as it should have, if anything it has gone backwards since Racan and Mesic when it comes to the harnessing of joint efforts between Croatia and diaspora to make it better. The fact that people are struggling to pay their gas bill is actually due to politics and their programs. I am aware you cannot fix everything but at least you need to be seen as trying – and Croatian governments in the past years have only been putting band-aids on economic woes and not tackling all the roots that need to be changed. The unsettled issues from the communist era will continue contributing to that state until they are resolved.

  4. Well said, Velebit, but I have to ask…don’t you think the answer to some of these questions is obvious? OF COURSE Croatia’s government doesn’t want to address the glorification of Partisans – the ones in power are made up of Yugonostalgics. Why would they want to work against the very regime they’re basically trying to bring back? I know lots of Croatians who hate the glorification of Yugoslavia, many of them living in the diaspora (how unsurprising), but I think there’s a certain culture of fear to speak out. I think this is because of the shaming placed upon anyone who condems communism…if you do so, it must mean you’re an Ustasha sympathiser. If you want to blame anyone for that, blame Stjepan Mesic and his cronies.

    Of course there are people in Croatia who are unhappy about this, who speak out against the EU, but again, their voices are stifled and they’re shamed for actually trying to look at both sides of the equation rather than blindly jumping into EU worship. (Look at how the media treats popular personalities who speak out against joining the EU or the current government – they’re fascists, Ustashe, Nazis).

    Because of the control foreign powers have had on Croatia, most notably the Yugoslavian regime, we’re still feeling the effects of their attempts to basically stomp out Croatian nationality and culture through these shaming tactics. The powers that be give us the identity that suits them and anyone who dares mutter “hang on no that’s not right” must be silenced. We’re just old fashioned, uneducated and living in the past.

    Are Croatians not admitting to wrong-doings in the past? Sure, there may be some who are still in denial, but I see more over-simplification of history that works in favour of the Yugonostalgics…every Croatian crime is scrutinised, but those committed against us in the distant and not-so-distant past are swept under the rug because you know, we have to all get along and play nice. We can’t be the mean ones who call out evil regimes on their wrongdoings and actually seek justice. The only way to fix things is to actually have a government that gives a shit about Croatians in Croatia and all over the world. A government that works to put its people first, Europe Union be damned.

  5. Thanks for your comment Kat, and yes, the answers to the questions are obvious to me – but one never knows how other people think. And of course Croatia’s government of today does not want to address the glorification of the Partisans because they are ‘Yugonostalgics’ as you say- but what about the years when the supposed nationalists (HDZ) were in power? Why was more not done to solidify us as a nation – to give us back a sense of pride in our country and our achievement and to set forth common goals that we could work towards. Why was there no attempt made to reconcile us with our past – or at the very least, obliterate ALL Partisan/Communist signage/monuments etc.? Why were Ustase and their sympathizers marginalized and villified once again – this time by supposed patriots and nationalists? Perhaps you are right and the key is education – but to whom do we entrust the task of educating our next generation? This government?

    • The problem in Croatia is there are too many politicians pretending they care about the country, but their actions show otherwise. It doesn’t matter if they align themselves with HDZ or any other patriotic party when their stance is basically in support of communist ideals. Correcting historically incorrect portrayals of Croatia doesn’t come easy. I can understand if in the years after the war most people were most concerned with rebuilding and regaining some semblance of a normal life. The attempt to reconcile our past should’ve come after at least some of those first goals were achieved, but as you are aware, those in power did not have that as one of their goals, since Yugonostalgics wormed their way into power.

      The government isn’t going to educate anyone, unless by some miracle we actually get a government that puts Croatia and Croatians worldwide first. People have to educate people. And how that can be done, I cannot quite answer. I’m sure everyone has their ideals, but perhaps we need to start on a personal level. If discussions about Croatia ever arise, we need to speak up and educate those around us about the real issue Croatians face, we need to correct people when they try to pass on communist propaganda as facts. It’s only a starting point, but we need others to actually be interested in learning about the political climate in Croatia and to develop their own desire for change.

  6. I’m still searching for what form of pressure the EU might exert upon Slovenia’s foot dragging. The will may be there but which practical steps are really available?

  7. The EU has no levers other than persuasion and investment trust. If other EU countries/businesses and indeed other businesses from around the world, perceive Slovenia as an untrustworthy partner that could have serious implications for investment considerations and decisions. There are always premiums to be paid for risk; higher risk, higher premium.

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