The Croatian Diaspora

Siniša Grgić - A Bright Example of Croatian Diplomacy

By 10 November 2018

By: Ivana Josipovic via Narod.hr on November 7, 2018

Courtesy Translation By: Marko Buljan

Dr. Siniša Grgić is one of the few Croatian diplomats who has been very well accepted by his recipient country, the United States, as well as by the Croatian expatriate community at large. His knowledge, leadership and professionalism have been equally recognized by both the grateful Croatian communities and his colleagues from the foreign diplomatic corps. Dr. Grgic will soon become the new Croatian Ambassador to Sweden.

The Third Annual Conference of Croatian-American Professionals, held in Silicon Valley two weeks ago, was organized jointly by the Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP) and the Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia in Los Angeles. Consul General Dr. Siniša Grgić used this opportunity to say farewell to the community of Croatian Americans after three years of productive work in California and 18 other jurisdictional US states. His new post will be that of Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Kingdom of Sweden. Marko Buljan, the Managing Director of the conference, told us: “Croatia has a consul general who has awakened the trust of the community in Croatian institutions. Such diplomats are deeply needed. Thank God, we have them“.

When he came to our community, he addressed us with a personal story of a boy and a girl growing up without their fathers. The boy's father never returned home from Bleiburg, and the girl's father never returned from Goli Otok Island. At the end of the story he disclosed that the boy and the girl were his parents. His personal testimony made a strong impression on me, and his hard work and determination made an even stronger impression. We had better and worse consuls, but Siniša is a special one and it is quite unlikely that we will have a better one” said Nada P. Matulić, president of the Croatian World Congress in the United States.

Robert Kohorst, the American Ambassador to Croatia, who came from Los Angeles, has recently praised on his twitter account the acquaintance with Siniša Grgić. Both are friends with Mike Antonovich, the longest tenure Los Angeles County Supervisor and one of the key influencers in the Republican party. Dr. Grgić has developed equally good relations with Democrats in the United States, especially with Janice Hahn, a former congresswoman, today the LA County Supervisor, and Nanette Barragan, her successor in Congress. The mayor of LA Eric Garcetti and the LA City Council members welcomed him more than any other consul at the City Hall. His colleagues from the LA Consular Corps (110 countries represented in LA, one of the largest consular corps in the world) elected him as the member of the Executive Committee. The EU consuls (24 of 28 EU countries represented in LA) elected him as their local chair last year. “For the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the EU, he organized the performance of the Ode of Joy (the EU anthem) in Los Angeles City Hall. The famous Croatian bass-baritone Boris Martinović and the Ukrainian soprano were singing, while a Russian national was playing a cello. All of this was broadcasted on local television. Siniša simply has a sense of doing the right thing, and that evokes our pride of him and of our Croatian heritage.“ says his friend Miro Koletić from Los Angeles.

Dr. Grgić received his Ph.D. in mathematical graphs theory in the field of information science and developed a new model for link prediction in social networks. The dean of the University of Zagreb, Prof. Damir Boras, himself an electronics engineer, was a mentor to Dr. Grgić and had only good words about him: “Siniša has made a fantastic dissertation and developed a link prediction model in social networks, better than any other known model in the world. I am glad I was his mentor!” Although he is an engineer, Dr. Grgić has completed a respectable number of courses and graduate studies at the world’s most famous universities such as Columbia and Fordham in New York, and the Executive-MBA program at Harvard Business School in Boston. In Japan, he has completed the Leadership Academy of Jaycees (JCI), an organization that he started in Croatia.

Dubravko Miholić, a longtime secretary and deputy president of the Croatian Exporters Association and Director of the Croatian Tourist Board in Czech Republic today, says: “He alone wrote almost all basic documents for Croatian Exporters, from goals to statutes and rules of procedures. He launched the association, with four of us and other founders, and invested his own money to organize the first convention. Although he was a key driver, he immediately handed the controls over to others-the largest Croatian exporters- because he had made it for them. He has the ability to recognize the moment and he is a real leader. The first convention of Croatian Exporters in 2004 was the biggest event ever held at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb with over 1400 participants, directors and export companies.”, says Miholić. He has also launched several other associations, including the Europe House in Zagreb. “As one of the original founders of the Europe House Zagreb/ European Movement Croatia, he himself became involved when the organization took a wrong course. He had gathered new young forces that gave Europe House new momentum and he has fundamentally renewed the art-noveau jewel in the center of Zagreb with his own and his business partner’s funds. After successfully leading the association in key times during the negotiations for the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the EU, where we have both participated as part of the negotiating team of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, he handed it over to other members”, adds Miholic.

He helped his friends, Ksenija Pluscec and Nicolas Quesnoit to establish the Zagreb Dance Center; he was a ballroom dancer while a student. Nicolas, well known from Dancing with the Stars, says: “Sinisa is a Croatian Bill Gates. He lives a hundred years ahead of us. We are following his new career in diplomacy over Facebook and we are delighted to see capable people in Croatian diplomacy“. As one of the leading Croatian experts for Big Data, he created a well known business portal “Poslovna Hrvatska“ which he sold to the multinational company Bisnode (D&B Europe). That company has permanently raised the level of transparency in the Croatian economy. He created a similar company in Slovenia and the same in Germany for a group of foreign investors. “Whatever he does, he easily succeeds. He radiates so much energy and enthusiasm that nothing can stop him“, says his loyal business associate from the company he founded in 1998 and led for 12 years.

Despite success, or perhaps because of it, some media outlets attempted to smear him with a fictitious affair “The Island of Knowledge“ and thereafter expel him from the board of the national state-owned television. The “Island of Knowledge” project proved to be completely clean: the state attorney unequivocally affirmed that there was not a trace of improper activity related to the project. However, the consequences of orchestrated media attacks on this Croatian intellectual, entrepreneur and philanthropist were simply brutal both in terms of personal relationships and health problems. True to his character, he raised to the occasion: he sold all of his businesses in Croatia and moved to Germany where he worked for two years as a director of an IT company. In 2015, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović asked him to serve the Republic of Croatia by appointing him Consul General in Los Angeles. Following the protocols, background security checks were performed both by the Republic of Croatia and the USA which nullified the unfounded media attacks.

Most recently, Siniša Grgić was confirmed by the members of the Parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee as the new ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the Kingdom of Sweden. Given his significant business network with deep links to Swedish businesses, it is to be expected that the cornerstone of his future work will be to develop and strengthen the economic ties between Croatia and Sweden.

People close to the President claim that he enjoys the President's great trust and that she sees him active in Croatian diplomacy for many years to come. His younger brother, Mislav Grgić, also a Ph.D., a former dean of the Faculty of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, has expressed confidence that his brother's diplomatic career has just began. His education, multiple management skills and immense energy, combined with true and undeniable patriotism, makes this Croatian diplomat a threatening opposition to the old diplomatic staff we had unfortunately seen, and are still witnessing, in the Croatian Foreign Service. His example shows that Croatian diplomacy can be better, more active and more efficient.

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