President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic on Tuesday addressed Croatian emigrants at a G2 conference in Zagreb and said that emigration was a great potential for economic growth and development, and that by raising itas competitiveness Croatia could attract them and other investors.
The G2 (second generation) conference organised by Josip Hrgetic, a Croatian ex-patriot from Venezuela, attracted around a hundred participants, half of whom are second and third generation emigrants from 17 countries, mostly from South America, apart from Brazil, as well as from the USA, Germany and elsewhere.
Grabar Kitarovic assessed that the conference showed that "connections between emigration and the homeland are firm and that interest in cooperation still existed."
"History has shown that Croatia's emigrant community has thought more about how to assist Croatia than vice versa and even though this has improved slightly recently, it is still not enough and I will do everything in my power to improve it further," the President said and added that the conference was one way of better connecting homeland and emigrant Croatia, which is something she has advocated for since becoming politically active.
She believes that today too circumstances are such to facilitate stronger connections between Croatia and its emigrant community on the economic platform yet there are still no success stories of economic ties and that concrete investments by emigrant Croats in Croatia should be better directed to where they are needed most and will result in the strongest economic effects.
Information that is unstructured and insufficiently precise indicates that every year, emigration remits around 1.1 billion euro to Croatia which shows that they are continuing to help but also highlights two problems. The first is the insufficient utilisation of that potential and resources to be used where it is most needed and the second is a relative lack of connection between our emigration with Croatia and its unconstitutional approach to emigration which is our great strength, stronger than many of our issue markets. This though requires a stronger strategic approach, she said.
She added that Croatia was in an unenviable economic situation with a high unemployment and a low employment rate and a particularly high youth unemployment rate, adding the problem of the "large outflow of young people from Croatia which is probably the greatest long-term economic and social problem of the country." She called on emigrants to be partners in boosting economic development through projects that will keep young people in the country.
The aim of the G2 conference, Hrgetic said was primarily to 'network' the emigrant community which counts about 3 million people around the world and many of them are interested in investing in Croatia.
"Europe and Croatia in particular are still in crisis and we see our chance and that this is the right time for business and not just in tourism but in various other sectors as well and we urge the next government to accelerate changes that will lead to a stronger development of the country and the abolishment of various unnecessary red tape that are slowing down investments and development," he said.