In the last thirty years, in particular, the Croatian diaspora worldwide has invested every possible aspect of manpower in supporting our homeland by pouring millions of dollars politically and socially, fighting for Croatian independence and development of democracy, rights, existence, identity, inheritance and sovereignty.
Sadly, and unfortunately, to no avail! It seems! Things have not turned out as we had expected in the beginning when call came from the homeland to the diaspora to join as equals (with Croats living in Croatia) in those fights and certainly things have not turned out as hoped.
However, I would not say that the efforts of the diaspora have not helped many individual projects and efforts and instilled a perception that there is a coordinated effort between the diaspora and the homeland to benefit both sides. But that does not result in a perception and acknowledgement across Croatia that its diaspora is an equal partner in building Croatia which was once intended – before and during the Homeland War. Not by a long shot!
The question that stares the Croatian diaspora in the eyes is:should the diaspora continue tolerating the situation where its input and contribution to legislation continue to be controlled and kept at an inferior low-impact level. Of course not!
Originally, when the parliament was constituted, reflecting the crucial role the diaspora played in creating the independent and democratic Croatia, there were 12 parliamentary seats designated for the diaspora (which for the sake of this article included Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The last reduction in parliamentary seats designated for representatives of the diaspora occurred in 2010 when HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) held government in coalition with HSS (Croatian Peasant Party), HSLS (CroatianSocial Liberal Party), SDSS (Independent Democratic Serbian Party), minority representatives and HSU (Croatian Pensioner Party).
Whatever the details behind this drastic reduction in Croatian diaspora voice within the parliament (and, therefore, within the legislative power) one thing is clear and that is that HDZ had failed miserably in ensuring that the diaspora which helped it enormously maintains its due and deserved position in the ongoing development of Croatia as a fully functioning and democratic state.
I have no doubts that this abysmal decision was made to pander to political pressures from those who did not want an independent Croatia in the first place.
Currently, our population in the diaspora, which is reaching an equally large number to population living in Croatia, is growing even more as hundreds of thousands leave, looking for work and a “better” life abroad. Surely, unless the prevailing mood is that of hopelessness that will surely see Croatian diaspora melting in the world’s pot, the crucial role the diaspora plays in shaping Croatia is and remains valid and pertinent.
After all, we hear on a daily basis that diaspora is essential for the success of Croatia as a strong economy and as a nation with a distinct identity. Croatia simply cannot afford the death of diaspora by assimilation! It cannot afford losing it in the world’s melting pot. The diaspora cannot afford that, either!
Certainly, for a while now, the political situation in Croatia, which is directly associated with governing the country, governing it badly no matter which major political party leads the government, raises alarms and fears on all key fronts: economy, education, demographics….
Basically, Croatian politics are being dominated by a handful of individuals who are running around trying to build personality cults around themselves in an attempt to get ultimate power in the land. More and more party or program labels are becoming less important as the country runs divided into individual politician’s camps.
Certain individuals, whether running for President or sitting in parliament or government are getting lion’s share of publicity in the mainstream media while others are simply ignored, and the less frequented or watched media outlets push their own personalities in the race to create personality cults, as each individual politician rumbles on to attract public attention, the whole scene is becoming an unpleasant spectacle.
All go around promising voters what they want to hear, regardless of the fact that if voted in they would be totally unable to deliver on what they say they would deliver. Perhaps they live in a bubble that rejects memory and track record as valid indicators of what one truly is.
The latest example of this spectacle was served during this week to Croatia’s public, amidst scandals associated with Lovro Kuscevic, Minister of Public Administration, that tie him to enormous personal wealth amassment via shonky and fraudulent property deals.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said that everything being directed at Minister Kuscevic occurred prior to him becoming a government minister! One would expect that Kuscevic is suspended as Minister pending inquiries but, no, no such decency and consideration is shown to Croatian voters. What chance has a country riddled with corruption got if such attitudes are promoted and no strong enough opposition to it is installed!
Croatia should be concerned about the living standards of all its people and in particular its future generation, no matter where their family political allegiances lie – on former communist or on former anti-communist sides. Neither sides have so far brought optimal joy and (relative) prosperity that was once promised! It’s all been a personality cult building, a power brokerage that would enrich some and impoverish most. So what’s left in the scheme of things towards prosperity and fully functioning democratic state? Operational knowhow, professionalism by working experience in fully functioning countries, political integrity that has no room for personal wealth amassment, dedication to common good, dedication to Croatia, pursuit of excellence and transparency, government accountability to the people, to name just the obvious that come to mind.
And does the Croatian diaspora have a role in this? Of course it does! Citizens of Croatia who live and work abroad, who have succeeded in relevant fields of life, have a key role and the diaspora should not continue being “satisfied” with mere three parliamentary seats, it should claim its rightful place in as many parliamentary seats as possible! After all, Croats living abroad have as much right in fighting for a better Croatia as any Croat living in Croatia.
This right was given it when Croatia was being created, this right was given it and maintained through all invitations to Croats living abroad to return to the homeland, this right was given it by birth. It must claim it – proudly and strongly. The Croatian diaspora holds an important key to a Croatia we all dreamed of and making that dream a reality is still possible through will and strong partnership in goals to be achieved.