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:

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