Applying For Croatian Citizenship Made Easier!

It’s about time that the process for applying and obtaining Croatian citizenship is made simple. The days have arrived it appears when some dreaded red tape or fear of receiving wrong information from some grumpy staff at consular offices and we must thank for this the clever individuals from the Croatian diaspora who have invented this App.

The “CitizenHR” app has just a couple of weeks ago been released on Apple and Google Play stores. Simply search for the App and access it. It is making Croatian citizenship simple.

The app is designed to help you be clear about what path to citizenships are available to you to pursue. It lets you know what documents you need prior to visiting the consulate and lets users browse a list of experts including, translators, lawyers, and other experts to compare and get their citizenship documentation completed in a faster time and for a cheaper price.

Developed in partnership with the Croatian Diaspora by Sydney-based Founder and CEO of online social network Pleme, as well as President of the Australian leg of CroDiaspora, Nikolas Kraljevic and developer Mate Pavkovic from Zagreb, Croatia (Founder and President of CroDiaspora not for profit organisation https://crodiaspora.com ), the app is aimed at diaspora Croats or people of Croatian descent, as well as being a valuable resource for non-Croats or to help with visas for the growing community of global digital nomads.  With Pleme App we have built an online community and app for Croatians to network globally. The aim of this endeavour is to help local Croatians and the wider diaspora connect and communicate in a dedicated place and foster better connections,” states on the website Nikola Kraljevic https://pleme.app/

The following is the information about the CITIZENHR App from the web:

WHAT IS CITIZENHR?

CitizenHR is an app specifically a Croatian Citizenship calculator that offers a way to make obtaining Croatian citizenship cheaper and easier to users for free.

FASTER CROATIAN CITIZENSHIP

CitizenHR is a Croatian Citizenship calculator app to help Croatian Diaspora and those with a special interest or affiliation to Croatia to be better prepared and educated for the Croatian Citizenship process which ultimately results in a faster citizenship process.

WHY CITIZENHR?

In 2021, we saw an increase in interest from the Croatian community and digital nomads and visitors to obtain citizenship and move to Croatia. We developed some smart algorithms to ease some of the commonly reported pain points and provide a free solution to the community with CitizenHR.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

CitizenHR works by entering your mail and answering 30 questions which powers our algorithm to determine what are the available paths to citizenship. From there we connect you with experts for translation or legal advice and show you the closest Embassy or Consulate to kickstart your application.

BENEFITS

The goals of CitizenHR are provide the following Benefits to users:

1. Boosting the network: Boosting the number of citizens and your potential network as a user of CitizenHR.

2. Smoother experience: Providing a smoother user experience for your citizenship application.

3. Suggesting Experts: Locate the right expert in a few clicks.

4. Drive down costs: Users can compare and contrast expert fee’s and get the best price on document translation or services prior to lodging their application.

LANGUAGES AVAILABLE

CitizenHR is available in Croatian, English, Spanish, German, Italian, French and Portuguese.

THE APP IS FREE

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/citizenhr/id1635720655

https://pleme.app/”

As more and more people embrace the smart and versatile mobile phone age, the number of consumers f different services and products online continues to multiply each day to billions. Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub, but also the bridge to the physical world. That’s why mobile will affect more than just digital operations — it will transform business and communities. And Pleme App is active in helping create better communities.  The CitizenHR App is certainly a great way forward as it facilitates so well the initial and obligatory process in applying for and obtaining Croatian citizenship.

Above:Nikola Kraljevic (L) Mate Pavkovic (R) Photos: Pleme.App and CroDiaspora.com

Croatian government would do well by mobilising more the advances in technology

Clearly most if not all Croatian government agencies/ministries are struggling to keep up with technology rollouts. Counter to the proactive approach taken by many businesses in the private sector to rapidly implement digital transformation initiatives, agencies/ministries such as Internal Affairs (for citizenship and visas) and taxation etc have evidently struggled to keep up with increased demand for more user-friendly electronic facilitation, despite the existence of the rather laborious e-citizen (e-Građanin) online portal. Unlike in some countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, UK etc mobile phone Apps are practically non-existent under the Croatian government service provision.  By failing to stay in lock step with modern tech environments, Croatian government agencies are providing a poor user experience to its citizens – particularly those who live in Western countries of the diaspora. The online consumer experience is nothing new — we’ve been using the internet to do practically everything for over 25 years. By overhauling security, implementing real-time observability, and using data to drive decision-making, government agencies would be prepared for future challenges, while delivering a stellar user experience. But maybe there is no real will for that in the Croatian governing politics. Perhaps the outdated manner of doing business with the public contains too many steps that are conducive to bribes and corruption for any notable will to modernise in step with technology to be put in place (?). Croatians living abroad, in the diaspora, especially those contemplating a return or investment, need access to online services and communication more than ever, yet Croatian government websites have continued to fail them despite forever shouting from the rooftops how very much they want Croats from the diaspora to return and invest. The tools and technology to increase and speed up these issues of interest are out there, and it’s time that they are deployed. If the government itself does not have the expertise required, then surely funds can be made available for external consultancies.

Along with debt accumulation and economic uncertainty, the lingering likelihood of another global economic crisis are provoking discontent among citizens. With corruption and nepotism running high people justly wonder whether the government is truly working for the public interest or only for just a few. Such disenchantment is eroding the foundations of democratic system and requires urgent action to strengthen the legitimacy of public institutions. There are signs that people’s trust in their government remains stubbornly lower than ever before.  By taking a people-centric approach to policy making and service delivery, the government can rebuild trust in the public administration, improve the effectiveness of public action and better respond to the global and domestic challenges the country faces. Furthermore, digital technologies are changing social and civic communities and how people participate in, and experience, civic and political life. These technologies, the growing availability and use of data, as well as services provided by the private sector that are considered as benchmarks, are transforming how public goods and services are produced and consumed at a global scale. This, in turn, affects people’s expectations about how governments should work and provide services. Increasingly, people want to interact with their governments in more efficient ways, including through digital platforms, and they expect the same quality of service regardless of the channel chosen to access the service. Information and communication technologies, when implemented appropriately, have helped simplify government processes, eliminate paper-based transactions, and established single points of access to the public administration. Expectations of multitudes that the Croatian government should be more in step with technology advances to provide access to and usage of public services are entirely justified. A better relationship with the private sector, especially the innovative one, would go a long way towards meeting the needs of Croats living in the diaspora intent on, desirous of return and investment.  Let’s hope it happens. Ina Vukic

Croatian Six – Judicial Inquiry Into Terror Convictions 43 Years On

It’s been 43 years 8 months and 21 days since the Croatian Six men were convicted of attempts of terrorist acts in Sydney, Australia and Justice Victor Maxwell who delivered the prison sentences was most likely completely unaware that before him was a masterpiece of lies and machinations of communist Yugoslavia operations against Croatians who rejected communism and migrated to Australia after World War Two. Perhaps Justice Maxwell felt that things were not “right” but was in no position to rule otherwise? May that too will become apparent and clear one day.

 It is now clear more than ever that the communist Yugoslavia in its rampage against Croatians who rejected communism and Yugoslavia did include not only purges by mass murders but also framing Croats for terrorist activities around the world due to which Croatians living in West had suffered awful consequences to their good name particularly during the 1960’s and 1970’s while Josip Broz Tito was alive and head of communist Yugoslavia. And so finally, after several attempts since 1982 to achieve a judicial inquiry in this greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of Australia we are looking at the best hope for justice for the Croatian Six men sent to jail on attempted terrorism charges with fabricated evidence and lies that came from a Serbian citizen infiltrating the Croatian community in Sydney as a patriotic Croat! The Croatian Six had always maintained their innocence of the crimes they were charged with eventually imprisoned for ten years each before being released early in 1991.

Finally, the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney Australia has 30 August 2022 ordered a judicial inquiry into the 1981 convictions of the so-called “Croatian Six” over an alleged conspiracy to bomb four businesses in Sydney and cut the city’s water supply, amid grave concerns the men were framed by a Yugoslav spy. This historic decision for a judicial inquiry was delivered by Justice Robertson Wright ordered a judicial inquiry into the 41-year-old convictions (and just over 43 years since the indictment) of Maksimilian Bebic, Mile Nekic, Vjekoslav Brajkovic, Anton Zvirotic, Ilija Kokotovic and Joseph Kokotovic, who were sentenced in February of 1981 to a maximum of 15 years’ prison each in relation to the alleged terrorist plot.

As I wrote in my previous posts here these four men of Croatian descent and birth who migrated to Australia and until their shocking arrest for alleged plot to bomb two travel agencies in Sydney, a Serbian club, the Elizabethan Theatre in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, and Sydney water supply pipes connected to the Warragamba Dam on the outskirts of Sydney, as well as other offences of stealing or possessing explosives in Lithgow and Sydney in 1979 all of these six men were decent, honest people and hard workers and it took the communist Yugoslavia dark secret services forces, using a Serb national as a spy to turn them into monsters the world loathed. In that loathing all Croatians living in Australia particularly, who fought for an independent Croatia during World War Two or who simply fled Yugoslavia because they did not tolerate the oppressive, murderous communist regime.  

In paragraph 48 of his determination for a judicial inquiry dated 30 August 2022 Justice Wright said that “a significant amount of other material in the declassified ASIO documents forcefully suggests that, at least, Mr Virkez (Serb communist Yugoslavia operative) was an informer to the Yugoslav Consulate-General for a number of months prior to the arrest of the Croatian Six in February 1979, if not a Yugoslav agent or agent provocateur”.

On Page 31, paragraph 72, of Justice Wrights 39 August 2022 determination that a judicial inquiry is to be held stated: “Having regard to all of the material, which was provided by the applicants and the Crown and which included summaries of or extracts from the evidence at trial, it appeared to me, and I was comfortably satisfied, that there are a number of doubts or questions as to parts of the evidence in the case and the guilt of the Croatian Six,”

and in paragraph 73 Justice Wright continues: “First, it appeared to me that there is a doubt, or at least a question, as to whether the evidence of Mr Virkez  at trial was deliberately false in a number of respects including when he gave evidence about the alleged bombing conspiracy, when he denied spying on the Croatians, and when he denied giving evidence at the behest of anyone connected with the Police Special Branch or the Yugoslav government. I was satisfied that this doubt or question arose having regard to the information identified above, including but not limited to the information contained in: the declassified ASIO documentation; the book Reasonable Doubt: Spies, Police and the Croatian Six; Mr (Hamish) McDonald’s interview with Professor (John) Schindler; the book The Secret Cold War, The Official History of ASIO, 1975 – 1989; the e-book Framed; Mr Virkez’s interview with Mr (Chris) Masters, parts of which were included the Four Corners program; the ABC podcasts including Mr Cunliffe’s information; and, the documents and accounts concerning Mr Cavanagh’s evidence.”

In paragraph 77 Justice Wright of his determination for a judicial inquiry said “… it also appeared that there is a doubt, or at least a question, as to the guilt of the Croatian Six as a result the real possibility that the Yugoslav Intelligence Service used Mr Virkez as an agent provocateur or informer, to cause false information to be given to the NSW Police, and possibly ASIO, as to the existence of a bombing conspiracy involving the Croatian Six, in order to discredit Croatians in Australia. Mr Virkez’s information led to the arrest and charging of the Croatian Six and their eventual conviction for conspiracy to bomb and possession of explosives. The principal evidence relied upon to secure those convictions was the testimony of Mr Virkez and the evidence of police officers of confessions said to have been made by Croatian Six and explosives said to have been found at their premises. As I have explained, there is, in my view, a substantial doubt or question as to the veracity and reliability of Mr Virkez’s evidence and as to the police evidence. Mr Master’s interview with Mr Virkez and the information from Professor Schindler also indicated that the Croatian Six may not have been part of the alleged conspiracy to bomb. This and other material concerning the alleged finding of explosives at the premises of five of the Croatian Six also led me to conclude that there is a doubt or question about the convictions relating to the explosives offences. Furthermore, on Mr Bebic’s case, the explosives found had been stolen by Mr Virkez and were said by Mr Virkez to be for opal mining. Consequently, there appeared to me to be a doubt or question as to whether the Croatian Six were guilty of any the offences for which they were convicted.”

All six Croatian men vehemently and always denied they had made confessions NSW Police sought to attribute to them, Wright said, and four of the six alleged they had been severely beaten by police. They had always maintained their innocence of the crimes they were charged with and convicted for.

Justice Wright in his determination of 30 August acknowledges previous attempts to secure a judicial inquiry into the 1981 criminal convictions against the Croatian Six and says in paragraph 80 “While the previous applications were unsuccessful, it does not appear to me that they were entirely lacking in merit, although the present application is made considerably stronger than the earlier applications by the availability of the declassified ASIO documents and the further research and information contained in the publications and podcasts since 2012…”

We now patiently wait to receive the results of the judicial inquiry, which could take several months, but as Ellis Peters, The Potters Field, The 17th Chronicle of Brother Cadfael,  wrote: “It may well be, said Cadfael, that our justice sees as in a mirror image, left where right should be, evil reflected as good, good as evil, your angel as her devil. But God’s justice, if it makes no haste, makes no mistakes.” Ina Vukic

The Power Of The Croatian Diaspora

The Croatian diaspora sends more money to Croatia than what it earns from its summer tourism industry (which is considered the strongest arm of Croatia’s economy), wrote Bozo Skoko in Večernji list newspaper on Saturday 2 July 2022, after a survey on how expats perceive Croatia was completed.

According to the survey Croatian expatriates believe that the greatest advantages of the homeland are the sea and natural landscapes, tradition, cultural heritage, hospitality, gastronomy, rich history, while the greatest disadvantages are the weak economy, inefficient political power, the legacy of communism, low level of democracy and political culture, lack of community and care for the environment.

Although, according to the latest population census, Croatia has less than four million inhabitants, in reality it can boast of 8 million people of Croatian roots and interests if all the Croatian diasporas from all over the world are included. If we exclude Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatian minorities in neighbouring countries, the facts show that more than 4 million Croatian emigrants and their descendants live at and around various world meridians and parallels. Among the largest number of Croatians and those of Croatian origins living in the diasporas are those in the US, Canada, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany.

The Croatians living in the diaspora have always and still do represent a strong potential of political, social, and economic power.  Certainly, the 1990’s breakaway from communist Yugoslavia into independence proved that such a goal would not have been achieved without the support and involvement of the Croatian diaspora and this, in itself, is a testament to the diaspora’s power on all fronts. However, the questions that would arise are to what extent they “feel” Croatia, what Croatian identity means to them, what could attract them to visit the homeland of their ancestors more and to invest, promote it and lobby for its political interests. Many Croatian emigrants, especially those who fled the communist Yugoslavia after World War Two and their children and grandchildren are largely integrated into the mainstream societies they live in and are very sensitive to ideological issues in Croatia, the homeland from whence they originate. The survey has shown that it is these latter Croatian emigrants that often bring and maintain enthusiasm to the social activities of their communities in the diaspora. This, of course, is nothing new, it is a continuation of what the Croatian post WWII political emigration had been doing all along – maintaining Croatian identity throughout the world, language, culture, traditions and political aspirations of democracy and freedom. Utilising the freedoms gained and offered by the democracies of the West to maintain and nurture their identities while assimilating into multicultural societies they live in.

Croatian diaspora is made up of top scientists, humanists, philanthropists, experts and business people, who were not satisfied with the situation in the former Yugoslavia and in search of freedom and democracy and better living and working conditions built their careers in the West, and today they make up the elites of the societies there. They were joined by those who left Croatia in the last thirty years — from professionals, who, thanks to their talents, knowledge, and creativity, quickly integrated into new societies, to those who, in search of better-paid jobs and fairer societies, became attractive and still cheap labour to rapidly growing Western economies.

We must not forget the so-called “guest workers”, who since the 1960s have been going to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other Western countries to make ends meet. While they always have one foot in their homeland, their children are educated and well-to-do citizens of the world, who like to spend their summers in Croatia, listen to Croatian music and rather support Croatia than the national teams of the country in which they were born.

In the first two quarters of last year, for instance, remittances from Croatian workers abroad totalled one billion and 745 million euros, while at the same time, the state’s income from foreign tourist arrivals was one billion and 494 million euros. This means that through various channels, Croatian workers from abroad sent 351 million euros to their homeland, or 23.5 percent, more than foreign tourists spent on accommodation, food or entertainment.

Although there was a fear that the monetary value of remittances would decrease due to the Covid pandemic, this did not happen in the Croatian case and remittances increased by as much as 206 million euros, i.e. by 13.5 percent more than the previous year. In the first quarter of last year alone, Croatians sent 890.7 million euros in remittances, and 854.3 million euros to the workforce from the beginning of April to the end of June 2021. So, in each quarter, Croatians abroad sent more money to their families than the state received in the first tranche from the European Union mechanisms for recovery and resilience.

These facts about the Croatian diaspora’s enormous ongoing contribution to Croatia’s economy, in addition to the relatively vast population of Croatians living abroad bring to the fore even more the tragedy of Croatian political and government leadership who continue ignoring and suppressing the significance of its diaspora. The government has few years ago created the so-called Centra State Office for Croats Abroad which was reportedly devised to actively engage the diaspora in advising the government what changes are needed in Croatia to further the development of democracy, increase expat return, increase investment is Croatia from its diaspora etc. However, this body is failing to deliver real changes and in its discriminatory process of nominations for advisers it has largely alienated Croats from the diaspora leaving as its backbone only those who are “yes” people to the government and its political party and who, evidently, do not dare raise their voice against the government and its policies. Were this advisory body a true representation of the Croatian diaspora communities then we could be looking at positive prospects of diaspora’s input into Croatia’s development. One would have thought that the years of this body’s existence, 55 advisors from all over the world, would have at least insisted in the adjusting of parliamentary representation for the diaspora from the current 3 seats back to 12 seats, which used to be from 1995 until 2010 when former communists in power (e.g., communist Yugoslavia nostalgic Jadranka Kosor as Prime Minister) took 9 seats in parliament away from the Croatian diaspora. The communist mindset and resistance to real input from the diaspora within the Croatian government is palpable at every corner and signpost on the path that was supposed to get rid of all communist Yugoslavia practices by now. The good thing is that Croatians appear to be waking up to this tragedy with actions. Thankfully, there are a number of organisations and private businesses in Croatia set up in the last decade especially, by returned expats who want to contribute to the betterment of Croatian living and economy despite the government’s aloofness towards the treasure trove of knowledge and skills that exists among the diaspora Croats. Looking forward to the 2024 general elections in Croatia and hoping for real change in government away from being bombarded by former communist operatives or their offspring.  Without that widespread corruption and nepotism will continue thriving and driving away into the diaspora, in pursuit of a better life, hundreds of thousands more people. Ina Vukic   

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