No To “Croatians Outside Croatia Day” – Yes To “Croatians Day”!

Some ten or so days ago the Croatian government has come out with a proposal about declaring a “Croatians Outside the Republic of Croatia Day”! While celebrating the Croatian diaspora or Croats outside Croatia in such a way that they are allocated a Day in the nation’s calendar may appeal to some, or even many (?), for many intents and purposes this proposal is likely to end up being counterproductive for the goal of integrating Croatia and its diaspora. The fact that protrudes here, and given the fact that the Croatian diaspora played a key role in the creation of the Republic of Croatia (both internationally and domestically), such separatist ventures as having a Day for the diaspora does absolutely very little, if anything, for the desired national goal of integrating Croatia and its diaspora into one body that breaths Croatia equally. In fact it’s counterproductive.

Instead of proposing extending equal citizens’ rights and obligations to Croatian citizens living in Croatia and abroad, we are now faced with something that evokes thoughts such as this coming from Croatia: “Hey, you, you Croats out there in the world, aren’t we great, we are willing to dedicate a Day to you here in Croatia,” and such indigestible tripe to any Croat living abroad, breathing for Croatia for decades and decades.

Sure, Croatia needs to acknowledge the importance of its diaspora in bigger ways than what has been done in the past twenty years, but to dedicate a “Day” seems tokenistic and political point-scoring at this time when nothing much is changing to attract a better and needed integration between Croatia and its diaspora.

Public submissions regarding the “Croats outside Croatia Day” are now open on the government’s e-Savjetovanje portal.

This is how the Croatian government has explained the reasons for its proposition for a “Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia Day”:

For the purpose of strengthening the relations of the Republic of Croatia with Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, Article 10 of the Act on Relations between the Republic of Croatia and Croats outside the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette 124/11 and 16/12) stipulates that the Croatian Parliament upon the proposal of the Government of the Republic of Croatia may deliver a decision regarding proclamation of ‘Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day’.

‘Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day’ is a day that will connect Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia with their Croatian identity, roots and rich Croatian history, and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia in achieving independence and assistance in the most difficult times of the Croatian people.

‘Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day’ will emphasise the unity of a single and indivisible Croatian nation that includes Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian national minority in European states and Croatian emigration in European and overseas states

The Advisory body of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, as an advisory body of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for relations of the Republic of Croatia with Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, made up of elected representatives of the most significant and most numerous associations, organizations and institutions of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia, suggested that the 22nd of August, the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Queen of Croats, be the ‘Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day’, taking into account the centuries-old migrations of the Croatian people and its attachment to the Catholic Church, which kept not only the central gatherings of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia but also the preservation of Croatian cultural customs, language and identity, especially in the period preceding the achievement of Croatian state independence.

Since the title of the Blessed Virgin of Mary ‘The Queen of Croats’ was presented and recognised through the history of the Croatian people all over the world, the proclamation of the ‘Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day’ on August 22 will provide a permanent link between the Croatian people in Croatia and beyond on the basis of respect for global Croatian customs, heritage and identity.”

What a load of hogwash!

Croats living outside Croatia have held a permanent link with Croatia for almost 200 years!

The law on relations between the Republic of Croatia and Croats outside Croatia even if it is relatively a new Act, was initially brought into being by Jadranka Kosor/HDZ government (Jadranka Kosor wielding a communist whip against Croatia’s independence and Croatian diaspora integration) and set into action by the Zoran Milanovic government – Social Democrats, former communist league who did not want an independent Croatian state in the first place and whose political allies together with them made a great deal of effort to alienate the Croatian diaspora from Croatia proper. Basically the Act talks mostly of ways to collaborate with the Croatian diaspora and strengthen ties but it fails miserably on the test of actually integrating the Croatian citizens in the diaspora with Croatia proper by extending same rights and responsibilities. It’s utterly disappointing that the current HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union has done nothing to amend this law in order to include the whole of the Croatian diaspora into the processes of both integration and collaboration.

The latter leads me to the government’s abovesaid explanation for a Day for Croats outside Croatia which talks of the government’s advisory body for Croats outside Croatia and describes it as “…made up of elected representatives of the most significant and most numerous associations, organizations and institutions of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia…”. This gives the impression that this advisory body is highly representative of the whole of the Croatian diaspora! Nothing could be further from the truth in many, if not most cases. The nominations for the advisory body are based on the above Act and the Act excludes the whole of the diaspora, favours only some 25-30% of Croats living abroad; to be nominated for the advisory body one must be a member of a Croatian organisation or association abroad and the reality is that up to 70% are not! This nomination for the Advisory rule is as discriminatory and as biased as processes can come. It’s a crying shame that it has not yet been changed to reflect reality and better impact collaboration by providing the ability for all to be nominated regardless of whether they belong to a club or not. This way, depending from which part of the Croatian diaspora the government’s “advisor” comes, depending on the level of harmony within individual communities, representation within the current and lacking nominations process can realistically mean anything between 1 – 15% of the community in many if not most cases, and that is no representation at all when it comes to important matters of the diaspora.

The government can boast as much as it can afford but the reality is that its Advisory body does not represent the majority of the Croatian diaspora. And that is because of its biased and undemocratic nominations/selection process for Advisors.

As is the case with almost all Diasporas, between 65-70% of Croats living in the diaspora do not engage with Croatian organisations abroad even though they identify themselves as Croatians (e.g. “Croatian-Americans”, “Croatian-Australians”, “Croatian-Canadians”, “Croatian-Brits” etc.) At the threshold of creating the independent state of Croatia, late 1980’s and early 1990’s over 80% of Croats living abroad made a point of engaging in and contributing in various ways (political lobby, humanitarian aid, fundraising for defence of Croatia, volunteering in defence forces, etc.) to the independent Croatia cause. It seemed that Croats “came out of the woodworks” (for many were not known to engage with Croatian community organisations prior to that) to lend a hand to Croatia. This percentage of engagement declined drastically after the Homeland War, “thanks” to the politics of former communists who started wielding power in Croatia then, but this does not mean that Croats not engaging in Croatian community clubs or associations are lesser Croats than those belonging to them. On the contrary, there are many examples of successful people of Croatian descent within the host country’s milieu, contributing to the Croatian being perhaps even more than some who are engaged in clubs or associations!

The point here is that if Croatia continues with its separatist ways when it comes to its diaspora the ever-existing connection between Croatia and the Croatian diaspora is in real danger of being further eroded. The true appreciation of the diaspora by the homeland does not come through dedicating a “Croats outside Croatia Day” but through genuine integration and extension of citizens’ rights and responsibilities. Having a “Day” just deepens the notion that Croats living abroad are different Croats to those living in Croatia. They are not and they never have been!

If Croatia needs a “Day” in its annual calendar to focus on Croats living outside Croatia and celebrate their achievements and their contributions to Croatia then, to my view and I believe to the view of multitudes, Croatia is on the crossroads of losing much of its diaspora and what it could still contribute for a better Croatia. Cherishing the diaspora means building the diaspora into everyday life of Croatia; providing for truly representative seats in Croatian parliament and not the tokenistic three; extending citizens’ rights and responsibilities to those living in the diaspora, and much, much more – but giving diaspora its “Day” – well, it may be welcomed by many but it also may offend many, because they consider themselves Croats and Croats only, regardless of where they live! Not homeland Croats, not diaspora Croats! Just Croats!

Instead of “Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day” the Croatian government should consider having a “Croatians Day” (“Dan Hrvata”) celebrations and within that honour specifically Croats living everywhere. It’s interesting to read that politicians in Croatia and people in government compare this notion of having “Croats outside the Republic of Croatia Day” on Virgin Mary Queen of Croats feast day (22 August) as being comparable to St Patrick’s Day celebrations as far as diaspora is concerned! They seem to have missed the fact that the Irish people throughout the world celebrate Ireland and the Irish people on St Patrick’s Day, not the Irish diaspora! I am for a “Croatians Day” and not for “Croatians Outside the Republic of Croatia Day”! Ina Vukic

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Ace News Desk.

    Like

  2. Had the Croatian diaspora preserved a permanent link to Croatia,they would have returned in greater numbers.
    So, the conclusion is they didn’t.
    Proclaming the Day is not going to have any effect.

    Like

    • Yes hrtica, link has been permanent but the return part needs more attention from Croatian side than just dishing out invites without creating conditions and red tape etc. Cheers

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    KEEP THOSE HOME FIRES BURNING—SO THOSE ELSEWHERE CAN—COME HOME!

    Like

  4. An interesting idea, having a special day for a diaspora, but I think it’s nicer to treat all members of a nation in the same way.

    Like

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