President Goes to Ireland to Lament Mass Exodus of Croats

Total Croatia News

Although mass emigration is one of the problems President talks most frequently about, the growing number of Croats living in Ireland shows that words are not followed by actions.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is in an official visit to Ireland this week. In recent years, relations between the two countries have been intensified, unfortunately not due to an increased trade or some other positive reason, but because thousands of Croats have moved to Ireland looking for a job and a way to make ends meet.

President met on Monday in Dublin with representatives of the Croatian community living in Ireland. “Diaspora from around the world is very important for Croatia. We need to create conditions that those people, whose work has enriched the countries to which they have emigrated, can return and use their newly acquired experiences to enrich their homeland as well,” said the President.

“You have replaced Croatia with the green Ireland in search of a better life and in search for communities which are opening and developing. Diaspora is our concern and our wealth,” added the President poetically, saying once again that Croatia needed to stop this contemporary exodus.

She said that she was pleased to hear about the successes of Croats in Ireland, but added that she was sorry they were no longer living in Croatia. “A country is warmed by its people, without them you cannot build the future,” said Grabar-Kitarović, in particular expressing concern about emigration from Slavonia and islands.

“Ireland has transformed from a closed agrarian society into a modern state,” said the President, highlighting the role of education and investments in technology. “A lot has been invested in education, and Ireland has become one of the European giants which has probably best used European funds for development projects and to improve its economy.”

She pointed out that she has allegedly dedicated her term to young people in order to make Croatia a country in which they would create, improve their skills, make money, and raise their children. “I put the demography issue in front of all other issues of social development. I am worried that Slavonia and islands are losing their youth and their future. The consequences of the Homeland War are most felt at the Slavonian plains. We can see the consequences at the full platforms of train station in Slavonia,” said the President. “I do not hide my sadness due to this modern exodus.”

Ireland has become a desirable destination for the new Croatian emigrant wave after Croatian accession to the European Union. Ireland immediately opened its labour market to Croats and it is estimated that about 12,000 Croats are currently living in the country.

While the President’s statements are completely reasonable, it is difficult not to note the irony that they are not followed by any specific presidential action. The promise to stop mass emigration of young Croats was one of her main election promises two years ago before being elected to the post. Since then, nothing has been done to turn the lofty words into any specific deeds.

On the contrary, for example, the President gave only a lukewarm support to curricular reform, which was supposed to improve Croatia’s education system and maybe make the future for young Croats less bleak. The curricular reform is now completely dead, despite statements by the President and the government that they wholeheartedly support it.

At the beginning of her term, the President promised to open a special department in her office which would deal with youth issues. After two years in office, the President was recently forced to admit that the department existed only on paper and was never actually introduced. Also, her praise to Ireland as an open society is contrary to her frequest statements about internal situation in Croatia, which can hardly be described as promoting openness.

In recent months, the President has put an even greater emphasis on the demographic crisis in Croatia, in regards to both emigration and low number of children being born. However, all the speeches and statements have not been followed by any specific action or proposals to the government, except for general platitudes about a need for economic development and improvement in living standards. The difference between words and actions is striking, particularly given her statement after the victory in presidential elections two years ago that she would make Croatia one of the most developed countries in Europe and the world in the next five years.

Well, there are still three years to go.


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