Rehashing Croatian Citizenship Act – Croatian Diaspora Takes A Spotlight

Zeljko Glasnovic, MP Croatian Parliament for Diaspora
January 31, 2019
Photo: screenshot


In its legal formulation, citizenship is a fundamental expression of membership in a nation! Automatic right to citizenship by descent/ancestry is far valuable for the Croatian national goal of having as many Croats return than what citizenship by naturalisation is. No question about that!

If I hear once more a Croatian government representative, or the President of the country for that matter, chivalrously (as they do) invite Croats living in the diaspora to return to Croatia, I fear I won’t be able to contain my outrage much longer! Why, you may ask – indeed. Well, all that the Croatian diaspora has been hearing from the political elites in power since about 1995 (when the Homeland War ended in military operations sense) is how Croats are welcome to return, how they should return to their homeland, how this, how that – all along those lines – and yet Croatia’s powers that be have done absolutely nothing to ensure that the process of receiving citizenship truly matches their invitations for return. That is, that citizenship is awarded to people of Croatian national descent living abroad who want to return or migrate to live in Croatia with minimal delay, if any!

One gets this bitter and irritating taste of something gone alarmingly wrong within this evidently national goal (and constant invitations for return have given a sense of national goal – i.e. succeeding in getting as many Croats as possible answer to the call [invite] for return) and pathetically incongruous means to achieve it, so far. Certainly, amending the existing Citizenship Act would represent one of the key means/strategies to achieve the goal of return. But, the highest of honours bestowed upon citizenship, an automatic entitlement to Croatian citizenship by descent (if one was/is born in the diaspora) is still locked to the condition that at least (only) one parent is a Croatian citizenship at time of birth of the child outside Croatia! This, of course, cuts out from that honour roll millions of people of Croatian descent living abroad. And those powers that be in Croatia are aware of this – some, especially those who show no desire for Croatia to be and grow strong, most likely prefer things to stay that way.

During the past week the Croatian Parliament agenda included discussions, presentations and suggestions from various parties about amendments to the Citizenship Act and those, bar one or two, gave no sense at all that what was afoot is a critical chance to ensure that the national goal of attracting as many as possible Croats from the diaspora to return to Croatia is actually addressed via amendments to the Act, including criteria for automatic right to citizenship. Representatives from the major party in government (Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ), such as Milian Brkic, Davor Ivo Stier, Ivan Suker and others kept waffling on about how their government is now bringing in the amendments that would make it much easier for Croats to become citizens of Croatia!

Front row: Zeljko Reiner (L), Milijan Brkic (R)
Photo: Hina

“This is a small step for Croatia, but a big one for Croatian emigration,” Milijan Brkic , HDZ Vice-President and Deputy Speaker Croatian Parliament, emphasised, accentuating the enormous potential and significance of the Croatian emigration.

With this we are sending out the message to the émigrés that our doors are open to them and that we are extending our hand to them for eventual return, and the first step is reception into the Croatian citizenship, and that we are extending our hand to them for investment into Croatia,” he said.

Well, well, well (!) – they are not pulling any wool over my eyes with this!

Firstly, Croatian diaspora gets deeply offended by such attitudes from Croatia that imply Croatia is not their homeland too. It is and it has always been so – the diaspora is part of Croatian nation! What does it feel like when people living in Croatia say “we extend our hand, open our door…to Croats from diaspora” ?! People say that such attitudes are pathetic, unproductive and have no place for a nation desirous of living with its diaspora.

Secondly, with their amendments they’re still keeping millions of people of Croatian national descent living in the diaspora who wish to return to Croatia, become citizens, in the less-important category of receiving citizenship through naturalisation! And that is no jackpot for Croats in the diaspora despite it being sold as such by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)!

Citizenship by descent means an automatic right to citizenship, whether one exercises that right or not.

Citizenship by naturalisation means that you pass the relevant requirements to become a citizen of a country that you weren’t previously a citizen of. This is the part about which the Croatian Democratic Union boasts – they say they will make this process easier, quicker for people who prove Croatian descent or belonging to the Croatian people.

Naturalisation is not an automatic right to citizenship and the Croatian diaspora needs to fight hard to achieve a widening of criteria for automatic citizenship right – at least those who want to return or emigrate (if they were born abroad) into Croatia.

“ … Perhaps one of the most important laws in modern history of Croatia is before us … for 28 years we gave been watching a Greek Tragedy … It’s a tragedy that the Croatian diaspora has become, I would say, Shudra in its own country, in the meaning of social castes in far India, they are there somewhere at the bottom … after all that they have given … this is a strategic question for the Republic of Croatia…we are constantly talking about the demographic plague … are we going to talk about the potential of the Croatian diaspora for the next three decades or are we going to finish this job … Independents for Croatia club will intercede to make things simpler…that law is still unclear…there are still smoke screens in it …in Article 6 for instance there are some 45 days for administrative purposes, which can block the process …well wait, the administration must complete its job as fast as possible … clarity and shortening of process …” said on 31 January 2019 in his presentation Zeljko Glasnovic, Independent Member of Parliament for the Croatian Diaspora. Video Link to his speech (in Croatian language) in Parliament on the Citizenship Act is presented below and well worth paying close attention to.


The important thing in Glasnovic’s presentation is that it contains inclinations towards possibilities of a special status in right to citizenship to be provided by the Act for people of Croatian national descent, including those whose ancestors have been living outside Croatia for many decades, whose families may have been deported or had fled e.g. post WWII, and are returning to live in Croatia.

Certainly, shining a special spotlight at the descendants of Croatian people returning to Croatia or emigrating into it is critical to the strategies of achieving the national goal of Croats returning to Croatia. No naturalisation process, no matter how short it is made, can ever replace in value for Croatia the automatic right to citizenship by descent. Descent meaning a descendant of Croatian people not Croatian citizens – the difference is paramount and enormous. I hope those in HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) will get to understand this difference and stop boasting about its new proposals to make naturalisation easier for Croats from diaspora and get on the wagon that is about automatic right to citizenship for descendants of Croatian people. Ina Vukic

Of Croatian Blood – Of Foreigner Substance


Foreigner Act and the diaspora: Of Croatian blood – of foreigner substance? Mid to late January 2017 saw readings in the Croatian parliament of evidently EU-driven proposals for amendments to the Foreigners Act 2011 of Croatia (including amendments to it prior to 2016). Foreigners Act is of exceptional importance because it contains definitions of foreigners or aliens within Croatia and many other provisions and regulations tied to entering the country, working, living, family reunion, education, and multitude of other aspects relevant to life in general. The parts of this Act that interest people of Croatian descent living in the diaspora, who do not possess for whatever reason citizenship of the Republic of Croatia, are particularly in Article 2 and specifically Clauses 1 and 2  and the wording of the relevant parts of Article 2 of the Act as it fronts up to the parliament for proposed amendments is:

“Article 2 (OLD VERSION TO BE AMENDED translated into English from source )

For the purposes of this Act, the particular terms have the meanings as follows:
1. Foreigner means a person who is not a Croatian citizen.
2. Stateless person means a foreigner who is not considered as a citizen of any State under the operation of its law.

The originally submitted proposals of amendments to Foreigners Act by the Ministry of internal affairs (SEE PDF VERSION CLICK HERE) did not contain any proposed amendments that would take into consideration any special provisions for people of Croatian descent and blood living in the diaspora who do not hold the Croatian citizenship. Hence, under the old and amended proposal by the Ministry of Internal Affairs such a person remains an alien, a foreigner, a stranger… while in Croatia. Had all the internal affairs ministry’s recommendations for amendments of the Act remained devoid of any deservedly special consideration or rights of persons of Croatian descent as, say, members of Croatian expats if born abroad to Croatian emigrants or migrants themselves who had not gone through the process of acquiring citizenship of Croatia after the breakup of Yugoslavia, then this amended Act would also spell yet another disaster for the Croatian government’s constant counting on the diaspora to come and invest, to return, etc.


At first look, though, it would seem that the Parliamentary committee on Croatians living outside the Republic of Croatia, headed by HDZ’s Bozo Ljubic, have “saved the day” for Croats without Croatian citizenship not to be considered foreigners while in Croatia – but, alarmingly, the final truth may indeed turn out not to be so. That is, the Committee had on its December 2016 meeting formulated its recommendation for the amendment by which it proposes an insertion of a new Clause 3, however that same Clause 3 may end up clashing with the new Clause 1 as far as the definition of foreigner under the Act is concerned. The Committee’s proposed new Clause 3 reads:

Croatians with foreign citizenship or without citizenship are not considered foreigners in the meaning of this Act.”

In its supporting arguments for this amendment recommendation the Committee states: “Within the rights to enter, move around, residence and work, persons of Croatian nationality should be made equal to Croatian citizens because that is of demographic and economic interest for the Republic of Croatia as well as its Constitutional responsibility.”

That Constitutional responsibility spills in the Article 89 of the Croatian Parliament Procedures, which regulates the scope of work of the Committee for Croatians living outside the Republic of Croatia …”

The above recommended provision under new Article 3 is, according to the Committee, “in accord with the laws of the EU member states with which the status of the members of the indigenous (parent) people without a citizenship and foreigners intending to settle, seek residency, citizenship or simply want a work permit and stay are regulated with the receiving country.”

While this recommendation is commendable and in much – ideal, until one gets his/her citizenship in order while in Croatia, it does only cover the rights while in Croatia, not necessarily in EU. It will be interesting to see whether this recommendation will actually be voted into the amended Foreigners Act and, more importantly, whether – even if it is voted in – there will be a clash and interference with the newly formulated Clause 1 of Article 2, which under the Ministry of Internal Affairs now reads:


A foreigner is a person who is not a Croatian citizen, but has the citizenship of a member state of EEA, Swiss Confederation, citizenship of a third country or is a stateless person.


It would appear that the Parliamentary Committee’s on Croatians living outside the Republic of Croatia proposed amendment to Article 2 – adding of new Clause 3 – clashes seriously with Clause 1 of Article 2 amendment as proposed by the Ministry of Internal affairs. Unless, of course, if the Committee’s amendment is accepted and then new Clause 1 is re-worded automatically to accommodate the meaning of the new Clause 3. But then again, why would the Parliamentary Committee recommend a whole new Clause 3 if its proposal could well fit into re-defining the “foreigner” status in Clause 1 for the purposes of the Act (?). Perhaps the Committees proposed Clause 3 could be merged into Clause 1?


I’m really quite intrigued to see how the parliament will solve this apparent confusion and source of concern for many when it comes to the definition of foreigner and its relationship to Croatian nationals without sorted Croatian citizenship. If all recommended amendments go through as recommended (incompatible foreigner definitions contained in two separate recommended amendment Clauses), will for the sake of defining “foreigner” Clause 1 of Article 2 take precedence over the Committee’s Clause 3 or vice versa? Can you have a definition (of foreigner) and a counter or an incompatible definition (of foreigner) under the same Article of the same Act, or in the same Act for that matter! Which Clause, if any, will in the end define whether a Croat without Croatian citizenship is a foreigner while in Croatia under the Act if both recommendations are accepted? Will Croats of Croatian blood remain foreigners while in Croatia regardless of new amendments to Foreigners Act being ushered through the parliament as a matter of urgency?


Why didn’t the Parliamentary Committee for Croats abroad pursue a different line of recommendation that would bring closer to realisation the right of Croatian people to Croatian citizenship? Why didn’t the Parliamentary Committee recommend an amendment that would not only give Croatians without Croatian citizenship the right to be treated (without the confusion between Clauses in Article 2 regarding the definition of Foreigner) as Croatian citizens while in Croatia but also the right to receive Croatian citizenship under special conditions say after 3 months living in the country or something like this? – And then, attend to amending the Citizenship Act – a.s.a.p! As I read the proposed amendments to the Foreigners Act looks like Croats of Croatian blood without Croatian citizenship may continue to enjoy the status of losers when it comes to special rights under ethnicity for citizenship, which – by the way – several countries already practice around the world. It is a fact that multitudes never got around to sorting the paperwork for transfer from Yugoslav citizenship to the Croatian one after the breakup of Yugoslavia because the Croatian bureaucracy and laws and regulations and communist habits made it all too hard for many to get their citizenship. So, if you’re out there, of Croatian descent and would like the citizenship, do go for it, insist and persist – you will be proud in the end! Foreigner or no foreigner under the Foreigners Act! Ina Vukic

Croatia: Citizenship Not Only For Sale In ‘James Bond’ Movies

Croatian passport for sale


It looks like the Croatian president Ivo Josipovic and his politically minded allies from “former” communist echelons, i.e., the equally incompetent Social Democrats government led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, have watched too many James Bond spy movies and have concluded that suitcases filled with cash and several passports one always saw in the fiction genre as the spy’s tools, could in reality be successfully used as a quick getaway from the economic crisis that’s consistently pushing the country towards bankruptcy.

Only a couple of days ago the Croatian President had announced that he salutes the government’s freshly baked idea of putting Croatian citizenship up for sale! They said the idea needs more work and weren’t sure as to what price tag should come with the citizenship. Millions of Euro per citizenship hit gluttonously swirl around the minds of those in Croatia who think that the economy could be saved by “cashing up” the state revenue through sale of passports!

The idea is certainly not new. While its implementation in several countries may have temporarily plugged somewhat a gaping hole in a state budget, it has certainly not proven to be the economic saviour and guarantee of ongoing economic prosperity by any standards of measure. Cash-strapped countries such as Portugal, Spain, Malta, Netherlands, Antigua and Barbuda, Granada … are among the countries that either allow direct citizenship by investment or offer pathways to citizenship for the wealthy. However, such inflow of cash has not made the economy stable and standards of living rising. Not by a long shot!

Incompetent governments fail to come up with programs of economic recovery, which activate citizen participation and usage of available domestic resources and, in that climate, have privatised or sold anything that could be sold. Selling citizenship is becoming a new ‘asset’ in a government’s ‘investment’ offer portfolio? The Chinese, Russians and people from the Middle East have been reported in the world media as the ones to whom the citizenship marketplaces have been particularly attractive.

While Croatia may or may not be attractive for many in the citizenship marketplace to live in, being a citizen of Croatia would give them the attractive advantage of spreading their daily living and education of children wings to the whole of the European Union.

In January, Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, said in a speech: “Citizenship must not be up for sale.”

Despite Reding’s force it seems that the wealthy can buy citizenship in at least a handful of countries offering a direct citizenship-by-investment route with no residency requirements.

Croatia’s Prime Minister was asked the question as to whether the sale of Croatian citizenship to foreign investors could also be a bait for suspicious capital and replied that suspicions about capital exist everywhere, that London, for example, is filled with people who had earned billions in Russia and similar countries and had without a problem gained British citizenship and that no one had asked them about the source of their money.

This reply and this kind of thinking reminds me of misplaced bantering on the streets rather than something a Prime Minister would say on such a serious issues. But then again, no surprise there when it comes to Zoran Milanovic who evidently has a major difficulty in raising himself and his rhetoric to professional levels expected of someone in such a high position. But not only that, the fact that Milanovic chose to mention London (Britain), rather than say Bulgaria, is quite telling and is very unsettling particularly because corruption in Bulgaria is rife (as in Croatia) and when it comes to “trusting” a corrupt public administration with the benefits a Passport can bring extreme caution is a must. “Even someone with a criminal record who has been turned down for a British passport can qualify for Bulgarian citizenship under the scheme, agents brokering the deal said”.

The person who wishes to come, who wishes to invest, who wishes to contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the community into which he is coming, the government also gives him the citizenship under certain conditions, but, that is not a final decision for us and we are talking about it,” said Milanovic, adding that the public opinion also interests him in this matter.

As far as I am concerned there is capital of criminal origin, which is the result of criminal actions and in that case, to the degree imposed upon us through international legal cooperation, we must be strong in that and not allow it,” Milanovic said.

Oh dear! How does one trust the Prime Minister and, indeed, the President with this when they have done very little to rid Croatia of crippling corruption in public offices, which will be the ones who would process and control the ‘citizenship for sale’ shop!? I certainly cannot!

Oh dear! How does one trust a Prime Minister and the President with this when they seem to have failed miserably in analysing the effects citizenship sale to the wealthy have had on other countries’ economies!?

Certainly, much of Croatian public is against the idea of selling Croatian citizenship. Some even see it as selling the Croatian sovereignty. All those against the idea see it as not having the “blanket” economic recovery benefit promoted foolishly by those in government.

The Vice-president of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) parliamentary representatives’ club, Goran Jandrokovic, has commented for Croatian TV that this “new plan” of those in government is an “idea” that will most likely not come to fruition, but that “it shows how deep the political and moral collapse of the government is. That is a move of desperation!” – Jandrokovic, who sees this idea as anti-EU, said.

Yes, but desperate people can be desperately dangerous, so caution should be the order of the day. Selling potential citizenship to the rich strikes one as a corruption of national ideals of every country involved in or contemplating it. Nevertheless, the “industry” is on the rise as various governments vie to plug budgetary holes and lift themselves out of the economic gutter. The politicians only motive is to stay in power as long as possible. The greatest threat to national cohesiveness, identity, loyalty, economic recovery, standard of living … is when public administration is so evidently and proven to be corrupt on a large scale that this very unwelcome fact almost guarantees a continuation of corruption and pocketing of enormous personal financial kickbacks – bribes – to those “handling” applications for citizenship. I hope Croatians will see through the treachery of this latest government plughole lunacy and vote them out quick smart, before their “Use By’ date comes; before regular elections. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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