Croatian Emigration Research Centre Discusses Demographic Issues

Lauren Simmonds

croatian emigration research centre

June the 27th, 2024 – The Croatian Emigration Research Centre has spoken at length about the burning issue of this country’s demographic woes, labour imports from third countries, and potential ghettoisation.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Domagoj Puljizovic writes, the departure of almost 400,000 Croatian citizens since joining the EU, mainly to other EU countries, has directly affected the labour shortage and resulted in the arrival of more than a hundred thousand, mostly lower-skilled workers from Nepal, the Philippines, India and Pakistan. The import of foreign labour isn’t remotely a long-term solution for the Croatian economy. The organisers of the sixth Croatian Emigrant Congress (HIK), which will be held in Pula from June the 27th to the 30th, warned.

If the state doesn’t appropriately respond to the needs of assimilation and quality integration of these increasing numbers of foreign workers into society, for which Croatia needs considerable financial resources, there is a danger of ghettoisation of new immigrants. The consequences of something like that can be long-term and damaging for Croatian society. These problems are now of a clear political nature.

“At the congress, more than 150 participants will speak about various topics important for relations between the homeland and Croatian emigrants, and our focus is to create an entrepreneurial atmosphere in Croatia in order to attract as many emigrants as possible to invest in Croatia,” said Marin Sopta, president of the Programme of the HIK committee from the Croatian Emigration Research Centre.

Entrepreneurs Zdenko Štriga, Marko Rudela, Sara Dyson, Mario Jakus, Rob Anderson and Tomislav Mustapić will discuss the value of experiences and business contacts of the Croatian diaspora for doing business in Croatia, and the discussion will be moderated by Don Markušić.

“The idea is that Croatian returnees and immigrants from the USA, Australia, Canada and Germany talk about running a business in Croatia through their personal experiences. They’ll also talk about Croats abroad should return to their homeland and invest in it,” said Sopta. The reluctance of emigrants to return to Croatia should not be traced to the Homeland War because those are now quite firmly matters of the past, he added. “The main problem is that there’s absolutely no political will for a mass return.

If such a political will existed, then more specific measures would be taken following the example of Israel, Spain, Portugal, Poland and other such countries. Sluggish bureaucracy is also a problem. In Canada you can set up your company in one day, but here you need hundreds of papers. Our people are not used to that,” he said.


He believes that the descendants of the second and third generation of Croatian emigrants should be enabled to receive citizenship automatically with proof of origin, so that they can more easily deal with their paperwork, and not have to wait for it for three or four years.

“When it comes to investments, we’ve failed to achieve the desired results. Businesspeople will not return to Croatia out of love for the country if they’re just going to lose money. The state must offer benefits in order to attract expatriate investors”, believes Sopta.

The Ministry of Demography and Immigration will not be able to make changes and speed up the return of emigrants without the support of the Ministry of Economy, Culture, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the Croatian Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Register of Emigrants, they concluded from the Croatian Emigration Research Centre.


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