Most of Croatian Development Aid Directed at SE Europe, Bosnia

By 11 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 11, 2019 - Over 80 percent of Croatia's development aid last year was directed at Southeast Europe, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian parliament heard on Thursday during the presentation of the report on Croatian development aid to foreign countries in 2017 and 2018.

Croatia's official development aid amounted to 355.26 million kuna in 2017 and 452.63 million kuna in 2018, with multilateral aid accounting for 72 percent, bilateral aid for 23 percent and humanitarian aid for 5 percent, Zdravka Bušić, state secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, reported.

Two-thirds of the funds were contributed to the general EU budget for development, and of the remaining funds, the bulk was directed into Southeast Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bušić said.

Of multilateral contributions, she cited 600,000 euro contributed in the last two years to the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, and 50,000 dollars contributed in 2018 to the World Food Programme for famine relief in Yemen.

Bušić said that Croatia was currently allocating 0.1 percent of Gross National Income for aid and the target for new EU member states is 0.33 percent.

Davor Ivo Stier of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said that the bulk of development aid was directed at Bosnia and Herzegovina because the situation there had a direct impact on Croatia's national security. "This is a single geostrategic area where energy, transport and economic connections are necessary," he said.

Stier said that more should be done to help Croats living in Venezuela to return to Croatia.

Joško Klisović of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said that development aid was not a waste of money but an instrument to achieve national interests. That's why, he said, it was necessary to define more clearly which interests and goals Croatia wished to accomplish by providing development aid.

Vesna Pusić of the Civic Liberal Alliance (GLAS) said that the report showed that official development aid was slowly diminishing because of the 504 projects only 12-15 concerned development aid, while the rest related to support to Croats abroad, mostly those in Southeast Europe and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"For example, 40 million kuna paid to drug wholesalers for debts, that's not development aid, but aid to the budget. It can be interpreted as aid to the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that's not development aid," Pusić said and added that that's why GLAS would not support the report.

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