Demographer Stjepan Sterc warned on Friday that the decline in births is Croatia's number one problem alongside young people leaving the country, saying the government must realise that the future of the entire people was in danger because of the decline in births.

Speaking on Croatian Television, he said demographers were continually "raising their voice... radically warning," but to no avail. He said it would be very difficult to "pull out" of "our harsh reality... unless we adopt some strategic decisions" and "realise that, objectively, this is the number one issue in our country."

Sterc said this year would probably see 32,000 births, a drop of 20 percent from 2015. "It's an unbelievable fall in the birth rate in Croatia. It must worry absolutely everyone thinking about Croatia's future. Together with the young people leaving, about 15,000 according to official statistics and very likely tens of thousands a year according to unofficial ones, the depopulation of Croatia could be over 50,000 people annually. That's absolutely horrible."

Sterc wondered how it was possible to define Croatia's economic development with such intensive depopulation. He said it was imperative to adopt key decisions this year already and that this must be a strategic decision for the new government.

He said the financing of "parasitic systems" must be eliminated from the state budget, "over 100 institutions which don't contribute to the development of Croatian society at all." He estimated that those systems cost several billion kuna which could be directed into the demographic revival and scientific development of Croatia.

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