New Film – Help Build A Roadmap For Croatia’s Future – Croatian Studies Zagreb

IFilms/Croatian Film Institute new film – Croatian studies/ Studies in Demography and Croatian Diaspora

The Croatian Film Institute (Texas, USA) announces a new short film directed by Nikola Knez (President of iFilms LLC,USA and Chair of Board of Directors of the Croatian Film Institute,  entitled “Study of Demography and Croatian Emigration”, which you can watch on the institute’s website http://www.hfi.mobi, more precisely at http://hfi.mobi/page-45.html or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcOJCs2saxg&t=985s.

University professors and students from the Faculty of Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb, in this short film of about 17 minutes duration, share their vision of the mission of a new academic discipline that addresses the effect of emigration of generations of talented Croatians on their beautiful homeland. They extend a heartfelt, inspiring invitation to youth and émigrés to join and support their new program–Demography & Croatian Emigration–at the University of Zagreb. This field of study prepares a future generation of policymakers, researchers and professionals who will use scientific projections and models to make decisions in the best interest of people, shifting away from political stalemates and power struggles that have hampered the country’s progress and created a 21st century diaspora of the best and brightest. 

Nikola Knez Photo: Private Collection

“In this film, university professors and students share their vision in a new academic discipline that deals with the problem of emigration of generations of talented Croats from their beautiful homeland, the Republic of Croatia. Despite having all the natural and human components for the successful development of society there is a political status quo between forces that want to fully embrace a democratic, productive, demographically inclusive free market economy and those seeking only their own interests, rooted in the past of privileged communist elites.

This has resulted in growing dissatisfaction of the population with state decision-making and governance, tolerant officials and thus promote eligibility over quality, and corruption over transparency and accountability. All this leads to the stagnation of democratic, economic, and demographic development and the emigration of a large number of young people. In an attempt to scientifically solve this problem and for science to offer solutions that would determine the future of the Croatian state in this aspect, the University of Zagreb established the Croatian Studies, and recently the Department of Demography and Croatian Emigration.

Therefore, professors and students extend a cordial, inspiring invitation to young people and the diaspora to join and support their new program – the Study of Demography and Croatian Emigration – at the Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb. This study prepares future generations of public policy makers, researchers and experts who will use scientific projections and models for decision-making in the best interest of the Croatian people.

On the website of the Croatian Film Institute, in addition to film, you also have a link to studies so that all those who are interested in this topic can directly contact and see opportunities for study or other types of participation.

The aim and goal of the Croatian Film Institute is to inform and encourage cooperation and qualitative action to stop the emigration process, stimulate the return process and to build Croats together, across the diaspora and in the homeland to build a better, better and happier Croatian state. ourselves and the whole world,” says the iFilms/Croatian Film Institute Press Release January 2022.

Entrance to Faculty of Croatian Studies University of Zagreb

According to the latest census from 2021, there are just over 3.88 million people living in Croatia. Croatia has lost 395,360 inhabitants in the last 10 years. This negative trend of depopulation indicates the importance of the Study of Demography and Croatian Emigration. It is expected that the Government of the Republic of Croatia will take urgent and decisive measures for the benefit of Croatia and the Croatian people, which will alleviate the outflow of population if it does not stop it completely.

While improving in many spheres of living Croatia still lags behind other developed countries in the realisation of its potentials. Population is the key factor in the development of a nation, of its society and space. The demographic problem Croatia has been facing for quite some time (e.g. the fall of natality rate, large emigration or exodus numbers of people etc) had become an urgent problem to solve and, hence in 2019 University of Zagreb had founded the Faculty of Croatian Studies via which the demographic problem has been lifted to academic level. While Croatian studies stream had soon after becoming an independent state, since 1992, existed as part of larger Faculties of the University of Zagreb it was thus almost three decades after becoming an independent state that Croatia had opened a new, distinct, and dedicated avenue of studying and perhaps coming up with solutions in addressing demographic problems, including studying one of the richest diasporas in the world relative to the population numbers in the homeland. The short film tells us that this new Faculty, Croatian Studies, had set the directions of its activities. And they are:  

  1. Research and study the Croatian society, its population, culture, and its diaspora
  2. To create scientific knowledge about the Croatian civilisational and historical heritage that contributes to the development of an independent Croatian state that nurtures Croatian national and cultural identity in the European and world context.
  3. Research current demographic and migration trends and their consequences.

The key role in this scientific project would essentially need to have and head the newly formed department of demography and Croatian diaspora.  Doc dr. sc. Stjepan Sterc, an assistant professor of that department considers that “the Croatian diaspora is the wealth of Croatia and that the total development of Croatia must be founded on the functioning of the domicile and emigrated populations and on that basis, we have formed the study streams within this Faculty so that we may best be able to acquaint ourselves with all aspects of associated issues…”

The study of demography and Croatian emigration is a scientific novelty at Croatian universities vis-a-vis importance and general interest and in terms of importance for Croatia and emigration issues.

Doc. dr. sc. Gordan Rados Photo: Screenshot iFilms/Croatian Film Institute

Doc. dr. sc. Goran Rados, assistant professor, says: “It took many years for the study to be established, although phenomenology had been studied for emigration for a long time. In the last seven or eight years, there have been significant movements of emigrants, but in a bad direction, which means that Croats have begun to emigrate from Croatia more than they immigrate to Croatia. These phenomena can be studied at the study from all aspects – economic, political, legal … mainly through social interdisciplinary sciences …”

In the past ten years and according to the Census 2021 Croatia has lost around 400,000 of its people mainly due to emigration but also due to the fall in natality rate etc. Given that Croatia had a population of 4.2 million from the last census the recorded loss calculates to 10% of the total loss of population in ten years. The force of high emigration in recent years has begun to jeopardise and threaten the fundamental systems upon which the Croatian state rests. With the current population of Croatia being 3.8 million it is without a doubt that the population of people of Croatian descent through to, say, fifth generation,  living in the diaspora is far greater than the population living in Croatian.

Doc. dr. sc. Wollfy Krasic Photo: Screenshot iFilms/Croatian Film Institute

Doc.dr.sc. Wollfy Krašić, assistant professor, says: “The aim of this study is to attract young Croats from all over the world to come here to study and then stay in Croatia or return to their communities and then be guardians and promoters of Croatian national identity, culture and language.”

Doc. dr.sc. Stjepan Sterc Photo: Screenshot iFilms/Croatian Film INstitute

Doc. Dr. sc. Stjepan Sterc: “So this is a very beautiful story that is extremely important to direct towards Croatian emigrants so that Croatian emigrants see that we here have not forgotten, among other things, what they did with their idealism towards Croatia in the 1990s and what they do every year through remittances sent very extensive through the financial system of the Republic of Croatia and larger than all modes of foreign investment. This only proves that this idealism in the emigration still exists and that it is only a question of the political attitude towards them as it will look like in the future.”

Become a student of Croatian Studies. Visit www.hrstud.unizg.hr

Help build a scientific roadmap for Croatia! Ina Vukic

Croatia: International Recognition 30 Years On – The Grim Road Nobody Saw

Croatian Postage Stamp Honouring 30th Anniversary of International Recognition

After the newly inaugurated Parliament of the Republic of Croatia passed the Constitutional Decision on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Croatia on June 25, 1991, and the Decision on the Termination of State-Legal Relations with communist Yugoslavia on October 8, 1991, Croatia became an international recognised state on January 15, 1992. As at that date some 30 countries had officially recognised its independence. On January 16th, 1992, Australia had recognised Croatia’s independence thus becoming one of the first non-European countries to do this and by May 1992 some 77 countries had followed suit.  International recognition came in wartime conditions after Croatian military and police forces successfully defended much of the state’s territory from Greater Serbia aggression and suffered ethnic cleansing of Croats from one third of Croatia’s territory, mass murder, genocide, rapes, horrific tortures of Croats, with many villages and towns suffering devastation and destruction.

For 30 years, Croatia has established itself internationally, becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union and numerous international organisations, and has made a significant contribution to building world peace by participating in peacekeeping operations. 

On 15 January 2022, we also mark the 24th anniversary of the successful completion of the process of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube region into the constitutional order of the Republic of Croatia.

It must also be noted that for 30 years Croatia has failed miserably at completing its transition from communism into democracy. The central values of the Homeland War that brought its independence have not been upheld to any noticeable degree. It must be noted that Croatian authorities have consistently been pushing Croatian independence activists out of the picture starting with forced retirement of some 18 Army Generals in 2000 and ignoring, or rather, purposefully omitting to give due respect and recognition to all who have contributed in the creation of the independent Republic of Croatia and its diplomatic relations and missions across the world. Croatia’s diplomatic and consular missions have consistently ignored to invite to their stately celebrations and functions in the diaspora the majority of the individuals who sacrificed so very much for Croatia, even the many holding Croatia’s Medals of Honour for taking significant part in the creation of the independence are consistently shunned and ignored and “new” faces brought to functions and celebrations who were never seen at crucial activities for independence but kept a safe distance from it all. This is not to say that “new” faces are not welcome, but it becomes deeply disturbing to a Croatian patriot when the people who sacrificed much even in the establishment of Diplomatic-Consular Missions are not respected as a group and given the respect they deserve. The “fashion” it seems for the last 22 years is that one or two such persons are chosen symbolically and invited to stately functions and rest ignored because they may have criticised the government for inefficiency in the transition from communism! I recently asked a very prominent person in the creation of Croatia’s independence and help for the war effort to defend Croatia if he were invited to a recent function the Croatian Embassy had organised and his response was: “No Ina, I have not towed the Party line, their line, for quite some time so I am not welcome there …”.     

Former communists or their offspring have persistently held power since year 2000. ensuring lustration does not proceed, hence, ensuring corruption and nepotism rooted in communist Yugoslavia thrive – still to this day!

Zeljko Glasnovic

To demonstrate the above persistence in keeping the communist mindset thriving in Croatia I found the best evidence in retired General Zeljko Glasnovic’s Fabebook posting the day before the 30th anniversary of the international recognition of Croatian independence in which he quoted the stark and awful reminder by Don Vinko Puljic about the terrifying facts of the Croatian communist-laced powers in control of the country. The quote goes like this:

Tomorrow, the Croatian state will celebrate the 30th birthday of its international recognition.

Many will remember many great moments and achievements on this occasion, so I decided to make a modest contribution to saving from oblivion at least some of the works (of corruption and grand theft) that have marked and defined modern Croatian society over these three decades:

Prime Minister: Prison. ✔

Deputy Prime Minister: Prison. ✔

Head of the Prime Minister’s Office: Prison. ✔

Minister of Economy: Prison. ✔

Minister of Agriculture: Community work sentence. ✔

Minister of the Interior: Prison. ✔

Minister of Defence: Prison. ✔

Minister of EU Funds: Prison. ✔

Minister of Culture: Prison. ✔

Minister of Construction: Prison. ✔

Minister of Administration: Awaiting criminal trial. ✔

Secretary of State: Prison. ✔

SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency) Director: Prison. ✔

VSOA (Military Security and Intelligence Agency) Director: Prison. ✔

VSOA Deputy Director: Prison. ✔

Permanent Representative to the UN: Prison. ✔

Mayor of the capital city: Prison. ✔

Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Prefect, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Deputy Mayor, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Member of Parliament, various: Prison. ✔

Party president, miscellaneous: Prison. ✔

Executive President of Dinamo: On the run from prison. ✔

President of Hajduk: Prison. ✔

President of Rijeka: Prison. ✔

President of Osijek: Prison. ✔

President of the largest company in the country: Prison. ✔

Dean of the Faculty of Law: Prison. ✔

Director of City Cemeteries: Prison. ✔

President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce: Prison. ✔

Director of Croatian Roads: Prison. ✔

Director of Croatian Motorways: Prison. ✔

President of the Board of the Croatian Railways: Prison. ✔

President of the Board of Croatian Forests: Awaiting criminal trial. ✔

Director of Hrvatske vode (Croatian Water): Community labour sentence. ✔

Croatian TV HRT director: Prison. ✔

Director of JANAF (Adriatic Oil Pipeline): Prison. ✔

Director of the Croatian Lottery: Prison. ✔

Director of HEP (Croatian Electricity): Prison. ✔

Director of INA (Croatian Naphtha Industry) : Prison. ✔

Member of the Supervisory Board, various: Prison. ✔

Congratulations to all the others who are not mentioned, and who have also in these 30 years in a similarly selfless and generous way built and shaped the land we have dreamed of for centuries and will leave to our children.”

To compound the problems Croatia has created for itself via its inept governments through these past three decades, heavily laced with communist mindset and corruption, the Late 2021 Census now reveals that Croatia has lost just under 10% of its population within 10 years which loss is mainly reflected in the mass exodus of young or working-aged people to other countries in search of employment and better living standards. True, there have been quite a number of Croats returning to live in Croatia from the diaspora but still about 400,000 have vanished and Croatia’s population now officially stands at 3.88 million.

One may hope that the coming decade will see a move in the right direction designed to eradicate corruption and theft to attract more people back into Croatia. For a multitude of Croatian patriots including those who actively participated in the creation of its independence the past 30 years could easily be described as horrible and gut-wrenching. Perhaps that is the price of abandoning communism and paying in blood for that? In any case this anniversary is the best thing that happens in the lives of Croatians who helped deliver independence! Congratulations and thank you to all involved! Ina Vukic  

Croatian Diaspora Celebrates Philanthropy of Marko Franovic

Tony Abbott (L) Ina Vukic (C) Marko Franovic (R)

It was yesterday, on 8th of May 2021, that the family of Marko, Božo, Marija and Milena Franovic delighted many guests at the Croatian Club Punchbowl in Sydney Australia in celebration of Marko’s 80th birthday. It was an event like no other in my memory. This was not a mere birthday celebration, this was also an opportunity when the Australian community and the Croatian community spread across the world recognised and celebrated the outstanding human being that Marko has been especially through his philanthropy spanning across continents in efforts to better democracy and life for all, awarding him the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Lifetime Achievement Award. And it so happens that Marko Franovic shares the 8th of May birth date with Blessed Stepinac.

Marko Franovic recipient of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy

Croatia’s Blessed Alojzije Stepinac once said: “Nothing will force me to stop loving justice, nothing will force me to stop hating injustice, and in my love for my people I will not be eclipsed by anyone.”

And today, Marko Franovic shows us how these words when translated into actions can mean so very much to so many people.

Sydney based Marko Franovic had, due to oppression and harsh life fled communist Yugoslavia in 1961 and via refugee camps in Italy he reached the shores of Australia – determined to make life better not just for his family but for his Croatian community and the Australian community. His life is a shining testament of success in all he touched with his hard work and dedication. This quiet, humble man delivered enormous positive impact on the creation of the independent State of Croatia and its 1990’s Homeland War and his philanthropy reached every corner in both Australia and Croatia that needed help. Many distinguished guests celebrated yesterday in Sydney and many sent video greetings from Croatia.

To me this was a proud moment not just to celebrate Marko but also to see Australia’s former Prime Minister Anthony (Tony) Abbott among us, thus reminding us that Australia had indeed been an exemplary host country, a new homeland, to so many refugees and migrants from Croatia who were able to nurture a long-standing desire for Croatia to free itself of communist Yugoslavia. Australia was one of the first countries outside Europe to recognise Croatia’s independence and plight for democracy in January of 1992 and it showed a passion of camaraderie with our plights and efforts to achieve that independence and democracy.

Charles Billich (L) Marko Franovic (second from L) Ina Vukic (second from R) Anita Paulic (R)

I was honoured to have been asked to deliver a speech during the celebration of Marko Franovic’s birthday, when he was named Croat of the Year 2021 and received his Lifetime Achievement Award. And here is my speech, which I hope will bring this amazing human being closer to you:     

“Our families of Croatian origins share a common passion and that is freedom from oppression and love for democracy and national identity. We of Croatian origins living in Australia for many, many decades feel especially lucky because this country had offered us the dignity of nurturing our love and dream for a free Croatia, propping up its plight and fight for independence from the Yugoslav communist regime when it was most needed, while growing and nurturing our love for Australia itself. And Marko is a shining example of how wonderful the synergy of love for two countries can be. It is ultimately a win-win situation for all.

As to how very fortunate we, whose immediate families fled to foreign lands, were at choosing Australia to flee to from communist Yugoslavia, like Marko did, I always like to refer to the speech that Sir Robert Menzies’, the longest serving Prime Minister of Australia in history, delivered in Parliament on 27th August 1964 in which, among other things, he said:

“…It is difficult for people coming to Australia easily to forget their historical backgrounds. Since the war a number of organisations opposed to the present Government of Yugoslavia have developed throughout the world amongst refugees and migrants from that country. It is understandable that some Yugoslav migrants of Croatian origin should continue to hope for the establishment of an independent Croatia and within a democracy like Australia they have right to advocate their views so long as they do so by legitimate means. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the vast majority of the migrants from all parts of Yugoslavia who have settled in Australia have proved to be law abiding, hardworking citizens and a real asset to this country…”

Sir Robert Menzies put wind under the wings of our love for our first homeland, Croatia.

Jadranka (Adriana Rukavina (L) Marko Franovic (C) Ina Vukic (R)

This win-win situation that has its foundations in love and loyalty to the first and second homelands is something to celebrate and tonight we celebrate its personification in the shape of Marko Franovic. It needed to be written into a book and I am honoured to present to you the hot-off-the-press ‘Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic Story’. It is a book that, after Mr Petar Mamic from Domovina newspaper contacted me with the idea, I myself undertook to write, to collate, to put together with the input of many people as well as collaborating authors Branko Miletic and Vanda Babic Galic. It is a birthday gift to Marko from all of us. Some of you here tonight who have gladly sent me your statements about Marko for the book, know, that you have brilliantly contributed to this gift for Marko but also a gift for both Australian and Croatian communities. Thank you so very much and I apologise if, at times, my requests for contributions came at a time when you had more pressing things to do. But you delivered for Marko and for that I am deeply grateful. Just like many delivered from Croatia. Thank you all, once again.

Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic – book covers

Proudly and with deep admiration we can say that the past four decades, at least, of Marko Franovic’s life have been marked by extraordinary gestures of generosity towards the Australian and Croatian communities. Marko is a philanthropist who, with his generous works, personifies the definition of this very word: a person who feels a deep love for humanity, who shows himself with practical kindness and helpfulness towards humanity. Marko is not only respected through his philanthropy. He has integrated with obvious and extraordinary ease his business, philanthropic and civic commitments and has followed a standard for individual and corporate citizenship that reflects a great measure of what we look for in society and rely upon to maintain the preservation of generosity and kindness to others.

Although he prefers to walk selflessly, quietly, under the radar of a bright stage and spotlights – Marko is a man of immense importance. He does not care about fame or recognition because he is a man who loves to support and give the most he can, rather than receive. His firm strides through the social landscape of his Homeland of Croatia and Australia, his many public roles, his contribution to social, political, and cultural care and the achievements that have often been talked about and analysed throughout the many years, are colossal and thus difficult to list in one place like this.

Marko has lived and lives a life what others like to call a life of a good man.

Never Forget Your Past: Marko Franovic Story’ is a book that wanted to show rather than tell and put on display what an exceptional human being Marko is and has been. On that note, the book shows not only the harsh life’s path Marko had to endure in order to become what he is today, but it also gives examples of his prolific philanthropy and how other people and community leaders see him.

I trust you will all enjoy the book and keep it a testament to how love for the first homeland joined with the love for a second can create miracles.  The miracles that are quiet, often unnoticed, but to many have the significance of well-being that inspires creativity and progress.  

Video birthday greetings for Marko Franovic from Croatia with English subtitles

Thank you, Marko, for all you do! I salute you! Happy 80th Birthday!” Ina Vukic

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