Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic began a five-day official visit to Sweden on Monday by meeting with representatives of the Croatian community in Stockholm.

According to Croatian sources, between 35,000 and 40,000 Croats emigrated to Sweden in three waves in the last century, as economic migrants in the 1960s, as political migrants in the 1970s and fleeing war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s.

Speaking of a poor demographic situation in Croatia, Grabar-Kitarovic said that the country was "ageing and dying" and needed people, including returnees from the diaspora. She said it was up to Croatia to provide them with the standard of living they have in Sweden. "It is up to us to ensure your return, your integration in the homeland and the fullness of life you have in Sweden."

She presented high state decorations to Stjepan Biletic, a priest who has been leading the Croatian Catholic Mission in Stockholm for 40 years, and Diana Vukusic, president of the federation of Croatian associations in Sweden.

"Four generations of Croats have been participating in the building of their new homeland for nearly 60 years, cherishing their Croatian identity. We remain what we are, mindful that desirable integration does not become undesirable assimilation," Vukusic said.

Biletic said he was proud to have been with his people "in moments of both sadness and joy, sharing both the good and bad with them."

Grabar-Kitarovic begins the official part of her visit on Tuesday. She is scheduled to meet with King Gustaf XVI and Queen Silvia, Prime Minister Stefan Lovfen, Parliament Speaker Urban Ahlin, and Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist.

The Croatian president is also due to visit Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson, the owner of Croatia's most successful ICT company, Ericsson Nikola Tesla.

Latest news

Hong Kong elects pro-Beijing candidate Lam; activists vow opposition

Carrie Lam, formerly Hong Kong's second-highest-ranking official, was voted in to the island's top spot Sunday by a small circle of electors, a move that raises the spectre of further tensions between authorities and pro-democracy activists.

Indian girl alleges gang rape by eight school teachers

Indian police are investigating allegations of gang rape and blackmail against eight teachers at a private school in western India.

Thousands of Yemenis protest against Saudi forces on war anniversary

Thousands of Yemenis gathered in rebel-held Sana’a on Sunday to protest the fact that it's been two years since Saudi Arabian forces began an air campaign in support of a government that was ousted from the capital years ago.

Hamas closes border with Israel after senior figure killed

The Islamic Hamas movement on Sunday closed the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, in a sign of growing tensions after the assassination of one of Hamas' senior figures.

Pentagon: US airstrike in Afghanistan kills al-Qaeda leader

Qari Yasin, an al-Qaeda leader, was killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan earlier this month, the Defence Department in Washington said Saturday.

IS claims credit for Bangladesh blasts as death toll rises to six

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for bomb blasts near a suspected militant hideout in Bangladesh, according to a report, while police said on Sunday that the death toll from the explosion had risen to six.

Bulgarians vote in new snap poll as EU, Russia and Turkey watch

Voting began Sunday in Bulgaria's third snap parliamentary election since 2003 amid expectations that it would once again result in a fragmented parliament.

Serbian politics blindsided as white jester grabs nation's attention

He mocks everything, including himself. He is not even real. Yet Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli is the runner-up in popularity polls ahead of Serbia's April 2 presidential elections.

One reported dead in shooting on Las Vegas Strip

One person was dead and another injured after a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip Saturday, police said, according to media reports, just hours after burglars hit a popular casino hotel.

Andorra end run of 58 defeats in 0-0 draw with Faroe Islands

Football minnows Andorra played to a 0-0 draw against the Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday to end a run of 58 straight defeats in competitive games spanning almost a dozen years.

Croatian PM: Government's aim is Agrokor's long-term sustainability

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Saturday that the government's aim was for the Agrokor food company to ensure, if possible, liquidity and a restructuring plan on its own as well as long-term sustainability.

East African countries pledge to integrate Somali refugees

East African leaders on Saturday pledged to facilitate the free movement of Somali refugees in their countries, calling for alternatives to camps for the refugees, whose number stands at about 900,000 in the region as well as Yemen and Egypt.

Demonstrations erupt at funeral procession in Bahrain

Dozens of protesters marched on Saturday in northern Bahrain at a funeral procession for an 18-year-old, who died after he was shot during a raid by security forces.

Rights group: Hundreds arrested in Belarus anti-government rallies

Hundreds of people including dozens of journalists were arrested across Belarus on Saturday as the country staged its annual anti-government rallies, human rights group Viasna said.

Iraq, US to investigate Mosul civilian killings

The United States and Iraq said on Saturday they would investigate reports that hundreds of civilians have been killed during the fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State extremist group.

Rallies across US as Trump licks wounds from healthcare defeat

Supporters of US President Donald Trump planned marches of varying sizes in cities across the country on Saturday.

Erdogan says he accepts that death penalty could block Turkey from EU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he accepted that reintroducing the death penalty could put an end to his country's bid to join the EU, as he continues to campaign for a referendum on expanding his powers.

Militiamen execute 42 police officers in central Congo

Militia fighters in central Congo have killed 42 police officers and abducted six others in an ambush, a provincial parliamentary officer said Saturday.