“If Croatia Puts Aside Politics and Ego, It Will Speed Up Its Growth”

Total Croatia News

Ognjen Bagatin on how to stop the emigration and bring diaspora back to the homeland.

The third Croatian diaspora congress was held in Osijek in June this year. Participant and donor Ognjen Bagatin speaks in an interview about his impressions and next steps, reports Večernji List on September 20, 2018.

I am very happy with the organization and response. We are continuing to build bridges with our diaspora, and this congress was an excellent continuation of the strengthening of the foundations of these bridges. The next step is the organization of the diaspora tourism conference in Split in 2019, and the 4th Croatian diaspora congress in Zagreb in 2020, where we expect Croats from 20 countries around the world, with more than 400 participants and 150 speakers.

This congress, as well as every other in the future, is the first step towards success, and our people in diaspora, with their success stories, contacts and knowledge, can help us achieve this goal. The greatest value of the congress is the creation of a network of contacts and the linking of Croats from around the world, which will lead to new opportunities for cooperation. In the period until the next gathering, we will be active and remind Croats in the diaspora that we need them and that they are our greatest, loudest and best ambassadors in the world. We will try to spread the positive entrepreneurial spirit and encourage young people to invest in themselves and to stay in Croatia which needs them.

What should we do or change in order to develop more concrete forms of cooperation between the diaspora and the homeland, and possibly motivate them to return?

In order for our emigrants to return and start investing more in Croatia, we need to work on developing perception and business climate, we need to start celebrating success and not write just about problems and politics. To make emigrants invest more, the politics need to get out of the way and let the marketplace do its thing. It is as if we are afraid of growth and development, and therefore, if we are not sure, let us ask our people overseas who run business systems worth tens of billions of dollars to advise us on what to do and how to do it. We do not need to be the smartest in the world, but we must learn from other positive examples.

Let’s stay away from the ego, let’s keep politics away from the business, and Croatia will speed up its growth. Now is the right time for it, we are more ready and more mature than ever for change. If we do that, we will return our emigrants to Croatia and stop the departure of our young, smart, brave and high-quality people overseas. So the vision is – one Croatia. We do not have 4.2 million Croats, but almost 8 million Croats all over the world. By 2025, the goal is to connect all top experts, entrepreneurs, scientists and show them that Croatia is full of potential, and we entrepreneurs will help them realize their ideas and goals in their homeland.

This year you also attended a presentation ceremony of Večernji List diaspora awards in Bad Homburg. What was your reason for coming there?

The Večernji List awards are a recognition for emigrant Croats who, through their work, merit and popularity in various categories, promote our homeland. It is not just a reward but, just like this congress, it represents a bridge of cooperation and linking the diaspora and Croatia. Croats in the homeland and abroad have accepted it as the most objective and most respected Croatian diaspora award. And, as I have already said, they are our greatest, loudest and best ambassadors in the world.

We want to help all the Croats from all over the world here, in their homeland. We want to provide them with care on a professional, health and human level that they will not get anywhere else. They already have a well-developed perception of quality and safe medical services provided in Croatia, and “the word of mouth” is still our most powerful marketing tool which makes it easy for us to reach new customers.

I think we can learn a lot from our diaspora, from successful examples of entrepreneurship and management. I am sure that diaspora is the future driving force of our economy and entrepreneurship. They love Croatia, they wish it well and we need them more than ever. To make this vision happen, we will continue with the organization of congresses and conferences and create a platform for a better Croatia.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Ivana Rora).


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