Tuesday, 4 January 2022

40-60,000 Croatians Expected to Move to Switzerland Over Next Two Years

ZAGREB, 4 Jan 2022 - Switzerland opened its labor market to Croatian workers on 1 January, which will further encourage the emigration of young people from Croatia.

Citing an estimate by demographer Stjepan Šterc, the newspaper said that between 40,000 and 60,000 Croatians might emigrate to Switzerland over the next two years, reports Večernji List.

According to data from the Swiss statistical office for November 2020, 28,966 Croatian nationals live in that country, while Croatian Catholic missions, the Croatian Embassy, and the Croatian expatriate community put their number at around 80,000.

Many of the Croatians who emigrated to Switzerland in the 1970s to 1990s have in the meantime acquired Swiss citizenship.

"Switzerland is becoming an ideal emigration destination because it is a highly ordered society where a lot of our people already live. My estimate is that thanks to easier immigration rules, between 40,000 and 60,000 Croatian citizens will emigrate to that country in the next two years," Šterc said.

"Two years ago I held lectures in Switzerland and saw for myself how satisfied our people are with their life in that country. They are dreaming about Croatia being as orderly as Switzerland," he added.

Šterc noted that Croatians find it easy to adapt to new environments, which makes them ideal immigrants while retaining their Croatian identity. "Switzerland is not far and they can easily visit their families in Croatia. Today, young and educated people quickly adapt and learn the language of the host country," he said, describing Switzerland as a promised land for Croatians.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Conference on the Future of Europe: Migrations Within EU Not Discussed Sufficiently

ZAGREB, 27 Nov, 2021 - Migrations towards Europe are definitely a problem that needs to be discussed, but so should migrations within the European Union, it was said at the opening of the fourth panel discussion of the Conference on the Future of Europe, taking place from Friday to Sunday.

Faced with a drop in citizens' trust, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU in September and October invited 800 randomly selected EU citizens to discuss topics important for the 27-member bloc in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. A group of 200 citizens will discuss migrations and the status of the EU in the world at the fourth panel, taking place from Friday to Sunday.

Dragan Volarević, a pensioner from Zadar and one of the three Croatians participating in discussions this weekend, called for putting on the agenda the topic of migration of people from eastern to western EU members.

"Around 10% of Croatians have emigrated, mostly young and highly educated people who are needed in every country. I was surprised the most by the fact that the first person to support me was a young Dutchman who is also interested in this topic even though his country does not have the problem of emigration of young people," Volarević told Hina.

He believes that the EU should help countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania create favourable conditions for young people to stay and work in their countries.

As for immigration from third countries, participants in the panel agreed that EU countries should show solidarity with refugees and migrants.

Migration is a burning issue across Europe, notably Mediterranean countries, as well as in Poland, Great Britain and on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We must avoid human losses if we want to call ourselves civilised countries but we are not doing enough to define concrete solutions, said Antonio from Italy.

For solutions to be defined, politicians should listen more, says Volarević, who described his experience at the first panel session in Strasbourg last month.

"During debates in working groups, members of the European Parliament had answers prepared in advance, and while presenting them they spoke of different, often unrelated topics, without keeping track of time, which is why only two citizens had the opportunity to speak," he said.

The second panel session, dedicated to migrations and global politics, was held online. Ten sub-topics were presented at it on Friday, of which five are related to migrations while the other fire have to do with the status of the EU in the world, and they will be discussed in greater detail by working groups on Saturday.

As regards migrations, EU citizens will work on recommendations on border control, on how to respond to illegal border crossings, how to facilitate access to official border crossings, how to integrate migrants in the labor market and education system, and how to facilitate the acquisition of EU citizenship.

With regard to the EU's status in the world, the discussion will focus on the EU's external policy which is in line with its values, such as promotion of democracy and human rights, changes in decision-making in the field of external policy so that the EU can define itself as a global power and strengthen the common foreign policy, on European defence forces, policy towards Russia and China, and the strengthening of trade.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Thursday, 7 October 2021

PM Expects Report From All Relevant Services On Violent Pushbacks of Migrants

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he had talked with Interior Minister Davor Božinović about violent pushbacks of migrants from the Croatian border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and expected a report from all relevant services to see what had actually happened. 

"Last night I immediately called Minister Božinović to ensure that the Ministry and police take all the necessary measures and investigate the matter so that we see what happened and take appropriate decisions, because Croatia, as a country governed by the rule of law, respects its own laws and international rules. We do not want any actions that might be connected with the state and that are not in accordance with our legal system," Plenković said at a cabinet meeting.

"We have a duty to protect our border and prevent illegal migration. We appreciate the role of the Croatian police in protecting the border in the last few years after our continent has become a destination for migrations, which are often illegal and led and organized by smugglers who benefit from the misfortunes of many people who for various reasons left their homes," he added.

Likewise, We Can! party on Thursday described the treatment of migrants as shown by footage of violence on the border as unacceptable, calling on the police management to leave border protection to somebody else if they were not up to the task.

Footage of masked police beating migrants at the border. (Telegram.hr)

The latest footage of violence against refugees and migrants on our borders reveals serious problems in the way the Ministry of the Interior is dealing with the challenges of migration, the opposition party said in a Facebook post, thus joining in numerous reactions to videos showing the brutal beating of migrants on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"If the current police leadership is not up to the task, it is time other people assumed the responsibility of protecting the border. The current approach to migrations is unacceptable and we once again support all police employees who do not agree with it and who have been warning about it for some time," the party said, recalling that it had warned on a number of occasions that the border can be protected without the use of violence and violation of human rights.

"The latest footage proves that we either have organized groups of thugs who beat refugees or police who remove their insignia and use force and beatings to drive people out of Croatia. Either means a defeat of the idea of a law-based state and human rights protection."

Božinović either denying the problem or announcing probes without an epilogue

The party went on to say that the Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović was "either denying the problem or announcing investigations without an epilogue."

It called on the minister and the prime minister to clearly say what was going on, who was responsible, and why they had not prevented the criminal activity on the border.

Minister Božinović said earlier today that an investigation had been launched to establish if the footage broadcast was authentic, noting that there was no tolerance to violence in the police.

Asked by reporters if he, too, was responsible if it turned out that the footage was authentic, Božinović said, "Why should I be personally responsible?"

He added that nobody had been given an order to use force, except in cases defined by the law, and that most situations on the border did not warrant such conduct.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

FM Gordan Grlić Radman: Croatia Will Fight Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, 25 Aug, 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Budapest on Wednesday that Croatia would fight illegal migrations and that a difference needed to be made between Afghan nationals who had been helping EU services and Afghan refugees who were the responsibility of the international community.

"People who had been helping (us) within the European External Action Service (EEAS) and our soldiers in NATO, to whom we have a certain obligation, are one thing, and another thing are refugees who are burdening the entire international community," Galić Radman said after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.

The two ministers talked, among other things, about the crisis in Afghanistan and migrations.

"We want to see refugees get relocated to Afghanistan's neighbouring countries where their human rights and safety will be secured," Grlić Radman said.

"Croatia will most definitely fight illegal migrations. We do not want 2015 to happen again," the Croatian Minister said.

The EEAS has called on EU members to take in EU staff from Afghanistan, namely approximately 500 locals, mostly interpreters, Logistics providers and their families. Croatia will accept 20 people. Hungary, for now, will not accept anyone.

Hungarians vacationing in Croatia

"The COVID-19 pandemic did not have a negative impact on our (bilateral) economic relations either, the proof of which is a stable trend in economic trade, and tourism has been very good this year as well, despite numerous restrictions," Grlić Radman said.

He expressed satisfaction with the fact that "Hungary, as always, has recognised Croatia as a safe vacation destination," saying that more Hungarian holiday-makers visited Croatia in the first seven months of 2021 than in the entire 2020.

The talks also focused stepping up economic and cross-border cooperation and Grlić Radman  thanked Hungary on the assistance it provided after the devastating earthquakes in Croatia in late 2020.

Later today, the Croatian minister is scheduled to take part in a conference of Hungarian ambassadors.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 18 June 2021

1 HRK for a House in Legrad If You Can Meet the Criteria!

June 21, 2021 - Last year, the municipality of Legrad in Northern Croatia started to market abandoned houses and construction sites in their town at 1HRK to attract new residents and has sold 17 properties since then. This year, the Legrad Municipality came up with a better marketing strategy to resolve the town's depopulation problem -  an additional 25,000HRK to 35,000HRK allowance for refurbishments, but at what cost?

Legrad is a rural municipality located just north of Koprivnica, Croatia. With its close proximity to the border of Hungary and the lack of transportation accessibility, the town has suffered continuous rural depopulation over the years as its inhabitants migrate to nearby urban cities. Currently, Legrad has 2,250 inhabitants - half the number it had 70 years ago. 

The repopulation attempt of Legrad Municipality started last year when they first marketed 19 properties in their town for 1HRK under the following criteria: the buyer should be under the age of 40, financially solvent, a university degree holder and a resident of the municipality or willing to register residence in Legrad within 3 years. 17 properties have been sold since the first attempt. These criteria still left the municipality vulnerable - there was no guarantee that the newcomers will permanently reside in the town.

So for this year, the municipality of Legrad upped their game by adding a better offer but with a bigger condition as well. According to the town's mayor, they will provide the new buyers an additional allowance of 25,000HRK for home refurbishments and 20% assistance or up to 35,000HRK for those who wish to buy a private estate in their town - in exchange for their commitment to live in the town permanently for at least 15 years, Reuters reported.

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 Photo credit: Damir Spehar / PIXSELL

The town's mayor, Ivan Sabolic, said that the offer has piqued a lot of interest from distant places abroad with inquiries coming from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and South American countries like Argentina and Colombia.  But since Croatia has a complex immigration system, the municipality prefers to keep it local for now. 

Last year, a young family of 4 from northern Croatia took up the offer and bought a one-kuna house and has since been living, working and raising two kids in Legrad. According to Danijel Harmnicar, the father of the family, the 15-year residency is not a problem because it is much nicer to own a property than to rent one. They are satisfied and have no plans to move in the near future.

 What to expect in the town of Legrad?

PXL_030521_32745519_1.jpg

Photo credit: Damir Spehar / Pixsell

For people who are interested in moving to Legrad, Croatia, the employment opportunities offered in the town are various jobs under food production, wood processing and metal processing.

The offer is also perfect for those who dream a peaceful countryside life. The beautiful rivers of Mura and Drava meet in this town, therefore, making it an ideal habitat for rare plant and animal species. Veliki Pažut, found at the mouth of the two rivers is a ornithological reserve and is often visited by nature lovers. The rich and long history of the town is also untouched such as the Church of the Holy Trinity and a town square, both preserved from the Baroque era. Also found in this town is Novi Zrin, a fortification against Turks that was built by the historic noble family of Zrinski. 

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

USKOK Indicts Nine Migrant Smugglers

ZAGREB, 27 April, 2021 - The anti-corruption office USKOK has indicted an Afghan national and eight Croatian nationals for smuggling migrants.

The Afghan national, who is the principal defendant in the case, is charged with having organised a ring to smuggle migrants across the Croatian-Slovenian border.

The migrants were charged €600-800 for transport from the Croatian-Bosnian border to the border with Slovenia.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Croatian PM Andrej Plenković, European Commissioner Ylva Johansson Discuss Migration Issues

ZAGREB, 23 April, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Friday received European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson for talks on migration and Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area, the government said in a press release.

The officials discussed the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which aims to halt arrivals of irregular migrants since the migrant crisis of 2015 and 2016, and to make the Union and member states better prepared for efficient migration management, the press release said.

Prime Minister Plenković underlined that for Croatia, as a country of the EU's external border, it is exceptionally important that the talks on the new pact define key issues such as responsibility and solidarity, procedures on the external borders, strengthening cooperation with third countries, efficient implementation of readmission of migrants who are not entitled to stay in the European Union and legal migration paths.

Significant investments in technical equipment to supervise the border and its border police enables Croatia to successfully protect the EU external border and the country is ready to protect the external Schengen Area border, he underscored. 

Plenković and Johansson discussed Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area. At the the Home Affairs Council meeting on 12 March Commissioner Johansson confirmed that Croatia had successfully completed the evaluation process and ensured the full application of Schengen rules and she supported the adoption of the relevant political decision in that regard.

The two officials also discussed migration trends in neighbouring countries and underscored that in order to reduce the permanent migrant pressure on the Croatian border it is key to better manage migrations along the entire East-Mediterranean route, the press release concluded.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Peru to Croatia: Returnee Perspective Two Years Later

April 17, 2021 - Two years ago I moved from Peru to Croatia. Thousands of returnees like me are hurting each year to leave our countries behind. But we have to look forward.

My parents taught me and my siblings from a very young age to value and appreciate the best of Peru: its people, our history, our culture, our traditions, our food, our ecosystems, and much more. That, no matter what, we should always speak with pride of our country when a foreigner asks us about it. In the same way, and as we have grown and had experiences that eventually proved it, we learned to recognize that there were not just one or two, but an immeasurable amount of problems in our country. And that we needed to recognize those them, criticize whoever we had to, and work on solutions to overcome those problems.

We have normalized a very harmful lifestyle, in which parents always say goodbye to their children when they go out to study, work, or with their friends with a ‘‘please, take care of yourself. Let me know when you arrive and let me know when you return’’. We have normalized discriminating against our compatriots based on where they live, the color of their skin, their way of speaking, and more. We have normalized reducing women to the minimum expression within society. We have normalized attacking gay or trans people and even make them invisible among the population. We have normalized that our natural resources should be exploited at the cost of the destruction of our environment and our Andean and indigenous communities. We have normalized electing politicians who represent self-interest and destructive ideals. We are now living in a country where everything is normal and terribly wrong at the same time.

The day came when I moved from Peru to Croatia. As I landed at the Franjo Tuđman Airport in October 2019 and looked down at the city of Zagreb, I thought about how I could put all my personal conflicts behind, but I couldn't help but think that I was leaving all that I had normalized for so long. It is part of who I am now. And not all of it was bad.

Six days ago, in the midst of one of our worst moments during the current pandemic, Peru held its presidential and congressional elections. I had distanced myself from political discussions about my country for the simple fact that I did not feel that I could really contribute something real while being so far from there, except for voting.

After an atypical electoral day, the electoral results seem to indicate that there will be a second round. Between whom? One for sure is a radical left candidate, named Pedro Castillo; and the other is Keiko Fujimori, recently released from pretrial detention on charges of corruption and money laundering, and daughter of dictator Alberto Fujimori.

Likewise, it is almost definite that our congress will be represented, in its majority, by ultra-conservative political parties. I followed most of the election day on social media, and I felt everyone's concern and confusion from a distance. It is true that Peruvians may be surprised one day in one way and the next in another, but something is very true and that is that difficult times are coming for women’s rights and the LGBTQ community.

It was during these recent weeks that I tried to imagine all the possible scenarios my country would face with each candidate, and I realized that despite all my attempts to assimilate that my life had already taken another course here in Croatia, I am still Peruvian and the problems of my friends, family, and compatriots are mine as well. 

Most of the people I have met here in Croatia were surprised when I said that one of the reasons I came here was to flee the toxic environment of a country steeped in corruption, lack of opportunities, and insecurity on the streets. ''Peru to Croatia? Don't you know we have a corrupt country as well?''. I get that a lot.

I know that I could spend hours discussing and demonstrating that the political situation not only in my country but in the entire continent is much more serious, but I do understand what they are trying to tell me. In the same way, I see that there is also a very complex situation regarding the migration of young Croatians for better jobs and wages in Europe and even beyond. We are different, definitely, but not as much as I thought. There’s no perfect country, and the margin of improvement is huge.

It is when I process all this information that I can reach a very valuable conclusion, and it is about the responsibility we have as citizens of a country or immigrants, and even more so if we are both at the same time. And this is something that I have learned a lot in recent years, meeting several South Americans of Croatian descent here: we run away from something, and at the same time we do not run away at all. It doesn't matter how far away we are.

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It is now that I think of Pero Kusijanović, our ancestor who left the small town of Mokošica and set out for Peru almost 150 years ago. I think of my grandmother, who left everything and went to Spain. I think of my aunts, who have lived in the United States for approximately 30 years. I think of the millions of Croats and Peruvians who have historically migrated to leave everything behind and seek a better future ahead. But is it worth keeping looking back once we made it out?

I think this was told to me by my psychologist a few years ago, but it's an analogy that I really appreciate, about the idea of ​​moving forward and leaving something behind. He told me that life was like driving a car. We cannot drive just by constantly looking at the rearview mirrors, taking into account that we can hit someone or something in front of us. Just as we cannot drive without seeing them, because we could be hit by someone or something behind.

What I believe is that we have a great responsibility to raise the best of our countries whenever we have the opportunity, as well as to be critical and reflect on what is really wrong there in the distance. I know it is difficult to think about the idea of change or the way we can be part of it when the only thing that brings us closer to our country are social networks and the news, but it is a matter of being patient and being prepared when the opportunity arises. Be proud, be critical. Moving from Peru to Croatia distanced me physically from my country, but not entirely.

I cannot say, however, all of the above without finishing by saying that at the end of the day we are not just Peruvians, Chileans, Argentines, Bolivians, Venezuelans, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Uruguayans, Paraguayans, or Croats. As human beings, it is also important to ensure our happiness, our goals, our mental health, and the well-being of our families. Sometimes the best choice (sometimes the only choice) is to climb on a plane and fight it off elsewhere, even if it hurts. The decision of moving, migrating, and leaving everything behind is something we should never be ashamed of.

If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I am happy to know that the place I went to was Croatia. Why? It is a country that has suffered as much as mine in the last 40 years. There’s so much to be done, but so much to be proud of. That way, I won't lose sight of where I come from, and the mission I still have to accomplish.

In the next weeks, TCN will be working on a series about the South American Diaspora in Croatia. If you're part of the South American Diaspora in Croatia and would like to share your story, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, visit our dedicated page here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

The Guardian: Croatian Police Accused of Sexually Abusing Afghan Woman

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - A woman from Afghanistan claims that she was sexually abused by Croatian border police, and even held at knifepoint, after crossing the border, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

According to a dossier from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the incident occurred on 15 February, in Croatian territory, a few kilometres from the Bosnian city of Velika Kladuša, the British newspaper said.

In the report the woman said she tried to cross the border with a group of four others, including two children, but they were stopped by an officer who allegedly pointed a rifle at them.

The Afghans asked for asylum, at which one of the officers laughed, after which the woman was singled out for a search, the Guardian said, quoting her as saying that she insisted that he should not touch her because she was a woman and a Muslim, after which the officer slapped her.

The officer allegedly touched her breasts and behind, and ordered her to remove all her T-shirts, which she refused. The five migrants were then taken away in a police vehicle, after which the police again hit the Afghan woman, ordering her to strip naked and starting to sexually abuse her, at one point putting a knife to her throat.

The police physically assaulted other migrants from the group as well, and ordered them to walk back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Guardian said.

It added that the European Commission condemned this alleged act and called on the Croatian authorities to investigate all allegations and punish those responsible.

DRC secretary general Charlotte Slente was quoted as saying that despite the Commission’s engagement on the migrant issue on the Croatian border, there had been no progress in recent months either in investigations of reports of brutal treatment by police or in the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms.

According to the Guardian, the Croatian Interior Ministry said there were no recorded dealings with "females from the population of illegal migrants" on the day in question and that Croatian police, by saving the lives of hundreds of migrants from minefields, rivers and snow, showed not only an organised and professional approach in the protection of the state border but humanity as well.

The Interior Ministry says the Croatian police are persistently portrayed as brutal without a single piece of evidence and that illegal migrants, when they fail to cross the border, are ready to falsely accuse those same police of abuse, the Guardian said.

According to the DRC, since May 2019 almost 24,000 migrants have been illegally pushed back to Bosnia, including 547 between January and February 2021.

For more about violence against migrants in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Amnesty International: Croatia Violent Towards Migrants, But Improves in Fighting Gender-Based Violence

ZAGREB, 7 April , 2021 - Amnesty International says in its report on human rights in 2020 that Croatia continued to be violent towards illegal migrants and that access to abortion was constrained, while commending improvements regarding gender-based violence and a ruling allowing same-sex couples to foster children.

"Aid organizations documented over 15,000 cases of pushbacks and collective expulsions, frequently accompanied by violence and abuse," AI says, singling out the case of 15 migrants allegedly beaten by police while being tied to a tree.

The Croatian Interior Ministry regularly denies allegations of migrant abuse.

Gender-based violence

"In January, legal amendments harmonizing the definition of rape in criminal legislation with international standards and increasing penalties for crimes of gender-based violence entered into force," AI says, adding that "the number of reported rape cases more than doubled" as the changes "significantly expanded the scope of the offence. Proceedings continued to be lengthy, lasting between three and five years."

"Due to the reclassification of domestic violence offences, the number of criminal prosecutions for such offences rose sharply. Nevertheless, in the majority of cases, domestic violence continued to be treated as a minor offence attracting minor penalties. Police and courts remained reluctant to enforce protective measures," AI says.

Sexual and reproductive rights

"Women continued to face significant barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and information," AI says.

"The widespread refusal of individual doctors and some clinics to perform abortions on grounds of conscience, as well as prohibitively high costs of services and poor regional coverage of authorized providers, presented an insurmountable obstacle to women of lower social economic status."

A new law on abortion was not adopted, AI says, although the "deadline to replace an outdated law set by the 2017 Constitutional Court ruling expired in February 2019."

Roma discrimination

"Roma continued to face discrimination in all walks of life, including education, health, housing and employment," AI says, adding that due to lack of electricity and the internet, "many Roma children were unable to access any remote learning during school closures, thereby further deepening educational gaps between Roma and non-Roma pupils."

Freedom of expression

"Journalists investigating corruption and organized crime continued to face threats and intimidation," AI says, adding that according to the Croatian Journalists’ Association, over 900 lawsuits were filed against journalists in 2020 for “violation of honour and reputation”.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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