President Presents Her Demographic Measures

By 11 June 2018

ZAGREB, June 11, 2018 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Monday presented her measures for the population policy, saying this was a vital issue, namely an issue of Croatia's survival as a country and a nation. Pointing out an increased share of the elderly population, an increasingly low number of newborns, the departure of the young and working-age population, the president said all of this would directly affect the national security, economic growth, social stability and overall future of the Croatian nation and state.

The president recalled that resolving the demographic issue was one of the most important things in her election programme. "Demographic revitalisation was and still is a top priority to which I have dedicated my term in office. To remain indifferent to our demographic disappearance would mean that we have given up on our future," the president said. She also said the demographic issue could not be separated from and was an integral part of the overall development policy.

Grabar-Kitarović said she wrote the measures she presented today herself with the help of her advisors, adding this was a working document which could be changed following a public consultation and further consultations with public, political and economic stakeholders.

"The price of implementing these measures is high, of course, but the price of failing to implement them is even higher – the disappearance of the Croatian people and the state in a not so distant future. The implementation of these measures is not an expense, but an investment in the future," the president said.

She stressed that her proposal contained measures which could and must be implemented immediately, as well as those which could be implemented in stages.

The president said she would forward all the documents to the government hoping for further cooperation. She once again said she regretted the government's decision to decline a joint session with her to address this issue. "Croatia needs deep and radical social changes so that the implementation of the said measures could be fully successful. This programme does not depend only on economic circumstances and the political will for its implementation, but also on the social climate in coming years, " the president said.

Grabar-Kitarović warned about an extremely worrying demographic situation and processes. According to the 2011 census, the population of Croatia was 4.3 million, According to estimates now, the population of Croatia is under 4 million and unless we stop the disastrous demographic trends, by 2051 we will lose more than 1.1 million people, the president warned.

The president is also worried about "a great exodus of the population", saying that last year alone 80,000 people left Croatia. Between 2013, when Croatia joined the EU, and 2017, approximately 230,000 people have left the country.

Speaking of the economic measures, the president said they must be aimed at creating an environment which will be favourable for opening competitive jobs. Grabar-Kitarović said the key to everything was the tax reform and that the objective should be to reduce the cost of labour for employers and increase net salaries for employees.

She also underlined the importance of reforming the administrative system and introducing complete digitisation, as well as the importance of foreign investment and a "regulatory guillotine."

The president proposed "a drastic turnaround" in the approach to resolving the problem of 326,000 citizens with blocked bank accounts. She spoke about family policy measures, organising them in three segments – financial measures and reliefs, childcare, time for family vacations, days off, and so on.

The president emphasised immigration measures, namely the return of Croatian emigrants.

One of the measures Grabar-Kitarović is advocating is a stronger absorption of EU funds.