A prominent demographer warns about the scale of the crisis.
The problem of emigration of the population from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has reached dramatic proportions and has become a matter of national security, Croatian demographer Stjepan Šterc warned, stressing that the survival of Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was particularly jeopardised because their numbers in the country could be cut by one third in the next ten years, reports Index.hr on November 21, 2017.
Šterc, who is a professor at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, said in an interview for Slobodna Bosna that demographic policy had become a vital issue for the future and development of both states. “The mode of governance in these states is the biggest culprit for the contemporary exodus. Such governance mode could be called a political occupation, in which there is virtually no serious approach to modelling the future,” Šterc said, adding that it was clear that politicians and their decisions had a direct influence on people’s decision to leave.
Although Šterc’s plan for solving the demographic crisis, which was part of the electoral manifesto of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, has been adopted by the Croatian authorities, he says that no significant action has been taken in accordance with its principles and concepts.
According to Šterc, the demographic problem is not perceived as a strategic developmental issue, and the consequence is the continuation of all negative trends and indicators, which have reached levels at which the basic systems of the country are endangered.
“The reasons for this are political selfishness, special interests, a financial-economic approach which does not take into account the human potential, and much more. My proposal was to establish a government office headed a deputy prime minister to politically direct strategic revitalisation policies, to determine clear budgetary priorities, to institute absolute protection of women during pregnancy and maternity, and to develop links with the diaspora. Current measures are just social policy actions and nothing more,” Šterc said.
Commenting on demographic problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šterc warned that the country had recorded an ever-increasing decline in birth rates. The difference between the number of births and deaths in 2015 was about 5,500, while in 2016 the figure reached between 9,000 and 10,000.
The estimate is that the natural loss of the Croat population in BiH in the next ten years could amount to about 40,000 people. In addition to a natural decline of approximately 2,500 people who hold Croatian nationality, around 10,000 people leave the country permanently every year. This would mean that the number of Croats in BiH, which during the last census in 2013 amounted to 544,000, or 15.4 percent of the total population, could be reduced by 125,000 in ten years. This is as much as 31.3 percent of the current population, said Šterc.
All this will directly jeopardise the labour, pension, health and education systems. “The demographical problem becomes a question of national or state security, or, more simply, survival. Those who realise this in time will focus all their political activities towards national interests in order to preserve the greatest potential in all societies, which is the human potential,” concluded Šterc.
Translated from Index.hr.