German Portal Claims Croatia Will Be Empty In 20 Years

Lauren Simmonds

croatia empty

May the 19th, 2024 – Will Croatia be empty in twenty years? According to one German portal which has chosen to gloss over Croatia’s startup, tech and IT boom – yes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in a report published on the online portal of the Editorial Network of Germany (RND) about life in the “youngest EU Member State”, author Thorsten Fuchs notes that the figures do show Croatia’s unquestionable economic progress after eleven years of EU membership. Here’s what DW has transmitted:

“Croatia’s GDP grew from almost 60 to a good 71 billion US dollars in 2022, unemployment has fallen from 17 to 6 to 7 percent, and annual wages are almost as high as in Poland and Hungary. In addition, the country receives enormous financial aid from the EU – 30 billion euros only from 2021 to 2027,” the text states.

But at the same time corruption is also pointed out as a big problem. Over the past eight years, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has had to dismiss a shocking 30 ministers, most of them due to accusations of corruption. The country is only in 56th place in Transparency International’s global corruption index. Under the new law, whistleblowers who quote from investigative files face up to three years in prison. According to a new survey, 74 percent of the population is dissatisfied with the direction in which the country is developing,” writes RND.

The author also quotes Sonja Schirmbeck from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Zagreb. “Outwardly, the government presents itself as pro-European and committed to the rule of law, but internally we see a huge democratic regression. Therefore, no matter how gloomy the image that citizens have of their politicians, many are satisfied with the fact that they’re part of the EU. Especially considering our own history”, the author states.

It is the same with the owner of one hair salon, Ksenija Jukčić. Her 30-year-old son works as a marine engineer in Rotterdam. The EU? It’s the best thing that could have ever happened to us,” she says. That’s because EU membership enabled her son to have a better life.

Hana Zoričić, Deputy Chief State Treasurer in the Ministry of Finance, also shows clear enthusiasm for the European Union. Her last major task was preparing the country for the introduction of the euro. “It’s good to be part of this big family called the EU. It’s exciting to sit at the table and see how other countries and the European Commission see us as equal members,” she said, adding that she had various offers to work as a consultant for large companies, with a much higher salary, but, she says, “I never wanted to do anything other than these big strategic projects.”

That’s all well and good, but Croatia is becoming empty and demographic issues plague the nation. For many, European Union membership is important, but in a much smaller way. Rodoljub and Višnja Džakula are the owners of a small OPG (family farm) in Banija/Banovina. They produce ecological and bio products, mainly meat. “We live better here thanks to the European Union,” emphasised Višnja, before adding: “the problem we have is Croatian politics. They don’t understand the model we need for our region.”

Despite rising overall standards and a low unemployment rate, the economic situation of young people in Croatia is still bad. The prices of both housing and general living expenses are constantly rising, writes the German journalist, despite believing that Croatia is destined to be left empty. He gives the example of Emanuel, a 21-year-old Croat who works as a waiter and earns 1,000 euros a month.

That doesn’t sound bad at all at first glance, but in the end he doesn’t have much left when he pays 550 euros for his apartment alone.

“Therefore, more and more young Croats are thinking about leaving the country.” According to a representative survey by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which will be published in autumn, today, 40 percent more young people are thinking about moving outside of Croatia than they were six years ago. The trend is already noticeable, recently the number of inhabitants fell below four million (according to the 2021 census).

Emanuel also wants to go. His desires are either Ireland or Sweden, because he heard that everyone there speaks English. All his friends think he should make the move, says Emanuel.

“In 20 years, Croatia will be empty”, states the rather stark text of the German journalist Thorsten Fuchs on the RND portal.

Our response to this is that while there are some absolutely indisputable truths in this text, there is also a lot that has been rather conveniently skipped over. Croatia’s IT, tech and startup scene is blossoming. The country has transformed in a very, very short period of time in this sense, with more and more international investors eyeing Croatian companies, products and innovation. And no, we’re not just talking about Rimac.

The demographic issues that once primarily plagued the chronically overlooked eastern realms of this country have certainly spread, and EU membership was a double-edged knife. It offered Croatia a lot in its standing in Europe and the world, but it also gave plenty of Croats a literal free pass to leave and go and build a life elsewhere with no boundaries or bureaucratic burdens.

Will Croatia really be empty in two decades? We don’t have a crystal ball, but not everything here is as bleak as the international media would (for some reason) have you readily believe. We’ll have to check back in with Thorsten when the time comes.


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