Dishing Out Crumbs To Croatian Diaspora In New Croatian Citizenship Amendment Act

Sample Croatian Citizenship Certificate

The Croatian Parliament has on October 18, 2019, passed the Croatian Citizenship Amendment Act (Zakon o izmjenama i dopunama zakona o hrvatskom državljanstvu) and the amendments will come into effect as of, and including, 1st January 2020. So what are the changes/amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act or law that are of particular interest to people of Croatian origins living outside of Croatia?


Automatic Right to Croatian citizenship based on ancestry/descent has not been extended to 2nd, 3rd, etc. generations of people of Croatian national ancestry  – it is still limited to person born abroad to at least one parent who at the time of the child’s birth was/is a citizen of the Republic of Croatia. Hence, if you like, this automatic right to citizenship has fundamentally remained the same as it was during communist Yugoslavia times; the only detail that is changed in this amendment is that the age limit within which a child born abroad to Croatian citizens must be registered with the Croatian authorities (e.g. Consular/Diplomatic Mission) is now 21 years of age (instead of 18) but, also, extended beyond the age of 21 IF within the next TWO YEARS he/she submits an application for entry into the register of Croatian citizens, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs determines that there is no obstacle for this.

There is no special consideration being given in this to Croatian nationals (e.g. like Israel’s long-standing „Right of Return Act“ for people of Jewish extraction). The only special consideration is given to existing Croatian citizenship of a parent at time of child’s birth. While Israel (and several other countries) in its laws that extend the automatic right to citizenship in its legislative development evidently considered the history of the Jewish diaspora, the Croatian law completely disregarded the history of the Croatian diaspora or emigration. Particularly the fact that through several generations Croats in diaspora refused to maintain their Yugoslav citizenship/passport (which at the time of declaring Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia translated into Croatian citizenship) as a matter of political and other principle – they fled from Austro-Hungarian Empire, they fled from Kingdom of Yugoslavia then they fled from communist Yugoslavia and, therefore, their automatic right to citizenship got lost in time. Any new Croatian citizenship law had an obligation to consider these unfortunate circumstances and especially so when one looks at the fact that all generations of Croatian emigrants in the diaspora played a key role in achieving Croatia’s independence – thus demonstrating everlasting sense of loyalty and belonging to Croatia, their country of origins.

While the Croatian government boasts of its newest changes to the citizenship Act the same, in fact, do not provide any truly special provisions for automatic right to citizenship on basis of Croatian nationality ancestry (extending the age of a child to 21 for registering for citizenship does not truly represent a special consideration) and yet, a day doesn’t go by that someone from the same government is not urging people of Croatian national ancestry to return and live in Croatia!

One reads, sees and hears these days in Croatian media government officers and HDZ politicians that the HDZ government has with this citizenship amendment Act delivered on its promise to make the acquisition of Croatian citizenship easier for the Croatian diaspora! To me and to many, what this amendment brings is a handful of crumbs that barely touch upon the national goal of boosting Croatia’s population with returnees.

It needs to be said here that one of the main reasons the government embarked upon amending the citizenship Act is entailed in the Government Program of the Republic of Croatia 2016-2020, and its context for demographic reconstruction, which recognises the fact that one of the strategic goals of the Government of the Republic of Croatia is to stop emigration, affirmation of Croatian emigration and facilitating the acquisition of Croatian citizenship for members of the Croatian people abroad and Croatian emigration, and proposes to liberalise the conditions for acquiring Croatian citizenship for members of the Croatian people abroad and Croatian emigration. (Page 17 Government Program of Republic of Croatia 2016-2020)

But as with other laws this Act the government passed also is a tragic mismatch with the government’s rhetoric and its expressed goals – to strongly attract Croatians living abroad to come and live in Croatia!

What this Act has done is somewhat made it easier to acquire Croatian citizenship via naturalisation for all aliens as well as for people of Croatian national descent. No special treatment or consideration of Croatian national ancestry. That is a shame and a great loss to Croatia, indeed.


Acquisition of Croatian citizenship via naturalisation process belongs to all people of Croatian ancestry whose parent/s at the time of his/her birth abroad were not citizens of Croatia and to all other nationals and aliens. The amendment includes: that Regulations for citizenship via naturalisation will be finalised within six months of the new Act coming into effect; this includes Regulations on the manner of verifying knowledge of the Croatian language and Latin script, Croatian culture and social order in the procedures for acquiring Croatian citizenship (Official Gazette, No. 118/12) with the provisions of this Act within six months from the day this Law enters into force i.e. from 1st January 2020).


Insertion of new Article 24b to the Act. It stipulates the solemn oath to be given by citizenship recipient: “I swear by my honour that as a Croatian citizen I will abide by the Constitution and the law and respect the legal order, culture and customs in the Republic of Croatia.


A new Article 30a is added to the Act to regulate the issue of the citizenship status of the missing and dead Croatian Homeland War veterans who did not have Croatian citizenship at the time of their disappearance or death, and also prescribes the possibility of subsequent entry into the register of citizenship of the Republic of Croatia and persons born in the period January 8, 1977, to October 8, 1991, whose parents were both Croatian nationals at the time of their birth and who had been granted another citizenship, provided that they submit, within two years of the entry into force of this Act application for the establishment of Croatian citizenship.

Hence the range or catchment area of persons considered to be expatriates, emigrés,  is widened in the new amendments Act. Croatian emigrés under this Act are  not only the persons who emigrated from the territory of present-day Croatia, but also from other territories in which Croats lived, and in which, at the time of the emigration, the territory of today’s Republic of Croatia was located and those belonging to this group must within two years of the Act coming into effect submit an application for citizenship.

In conclusion: while the Croatian government boasts of changes to the citizenship Act as contributing highly to its calls and promises for demographic policy and strengthening of the ‘Croatian component’ both in the country and abroad, this Croatian Citizenship Amendment Act will not be a very productive demographic measure much due to the fact that it has not expanded the population abroad that has automatic right to citizenship on the basis of Croatian nationality, ethnic, descent, ancestry. Naturalisation and making this easier by cutting out language, culture and social order tests is not likely to see any significant surge of citizenship applications. This particularly so if we consider the fact that actively seeking citizenship of another country by naturalisation, by people that already have citizenship of other country/countries may pose both stumbling blocks and statutory limitations for some individuals. It is utterly disappointing that automatic right to citizenship was not by this Amendment Act extended to second or third generations of Croats born outside Croatia given that receiving a citizenship as a matter of automatic right rather than applying for one through naturalisation are entirely different matters in any country’s eyes and laws. I say this particularly having in mind the history of Croatian emigration and the fact that the 20th century saw multitudes flee from foreign control such as Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Yugoslavia and communist Yugoslavia. When it comes to victimhood and persecution and oppression as ingredients of history of a nation of people and their automatic rights to citizenship upon return several countries, including Israel, got that formula right towards boosting population and improving demographic picture of a country. Croatia ignored that formula totally. I have no doubts that that’s because today’s Croatia is still largely governed and controlled by the communist Yugoslavia heritage that still resists and fights against the assertion of its predominantly Croatian nationality profile.  Ina Vukic


Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: