Saturday, 15 March 2014

Croatia and the World - 04 - The situation of Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Croatia and the World - 04

The situation of Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina

I quote the words of retired General Vlado Džoić, member of Government Advisory Council for Croatians Abroad.

"Unfortunately, the Croatian nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has the same rights and is a constituent nation only on paper, while in practice and in real life, being the least populous nation, is exposed to the majority rule with respect to the most numerous nations.

"There are many examples of submission to the majority and denial of the electoral will of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I will mention a few. In the last two election cycles

"The choosing of Željko Komšić as a member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina representing Croatians (elected with the votes of the Bosniak nation),

"The appointment of the President and Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina whereby the majority will of the Croatian nation is totally denied (the Constitution of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Election Law is violated),

"The appointment of directors of public institutions, institutions and companies majority-owned by the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Bosniak representatives in the legislative and executive powers and that with people who do not have Croatian legitimacy nor a qualification or ability to perform the duties of the positions,

"Passing laws without the consent of the zupanias (counties) against the Croatian nation, surpassing in votes the Croatian MPs in the parliament of the Federation of BiH and

"Constant attempts to take away even more power from the Croatian nation, transferring powers from the zupanias to the Federation, while the Dayton peace agreement has expressly given jurisdiction to the zupanias.

"They also despise and criminalize Croatian Homeland War defenders, denying the place and role of the HVO - Croatian Defense Council - in the Patriotic War, as well as removing unconstitutional acquired rights of Croatian defenders.

Save Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Croatian World Congress, through his spokesman Šimun Šito Ćorić, issued a public statement.

"Considering the growing and widespread dissatisfaction with the social conditions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the manifest break of the structure of this State that already last too long, the abolition of personal and national rights of the oldest nation and constitutive nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and considering that already exist a Serb entity, and also considering that the Croatians are suffering the domination of the majority by the Bosniaks in the so-called Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Croatian World Congress again calls on all those responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, the European Union and United Nations to finally stand up to the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to save it from the unfortunate situation and perhaps total failure.

"It is obvious that the current composition, which already last 20 years, does not satisfy any of the nations. This situation is only satisfactory to local and international bureaucracy living from the State through hundreds of useless ministries and other national and international institutions.

"For all these reasons we believe that in the interest of the functional organization of the small and broken so-called State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it would be the best option for all to allow three governments in three entities, plus one at the State level, rather than the existing infamous 14 governments and more than a hundred ministries.

"Discussion of a third entity for elementary democratic reasons should not be a taboo, as it would aim to build the best possible relations among nations and all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"In Europe and the same in Bosnia and Herzegovina, all have to do well, because that is the only way everyone will be able to build successful and healthy national and inter-national relationships.

"After the international and national failures that occurred so far in the functional organization of the State, it seems no one can feel a Bosnia and Herzegovina as being his own State.

"On the other hand, experts were telling us for years that the political and social organization of the Swiss government has a lot of proven elements that could also be successfully applied in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"For example, in Switzerland, there is no difficulty in respecting three, and even four linguistic regions, although some have spatial discontinuities.

"We want to say, that the functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina with three entities does not mean to remain enclosed in private patios.

"Finally, at the State level, through a transparent and clearly defined process of the general functioning of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, each nation would be guaranteed the preservation and construction of its national identity, as well as a civilized and democratic freedom of action without compromising the other nations, as in the proven Swiss model.

"This way, everyone could finally recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina as its own State and work more efficiently for the prosperity of its citizens and a dignified place in the European Union community.

Joza Vrljičak

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Croatia and the World - 03 - Croatia, her Diaspora – The Advisory Council

Croatia and the World - 03
Croatia, her Diaspora – The Advisory Council

2.    Commission for history and protection of rights and interests of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia.
(Helps the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the formulation of the official position and actions aimed at strengthening the position of Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia. Encourage the Croatian communities outside the Republic of Croatia to participate in the social and political life of the countries where they live and that they get actively involved in the social and political life of the Republic of Croatia; ...)

  1. Committee for economic issues and investment.
(Helps the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the formulation of programs and measures to encourage investment by Croatian emigrants in the Croatian economy, lobbying in the countries of residence to increase cooperation with the Republic of Croatia and the investment in Croatian economy; ...)

  1. Commission to promote the return of Croatian emigrants and their descendants to the Republic of Croatia.
(Helps the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the formulation of programs and measures to attract affirmed scientists, talented students and scholars; employment programs for Croatian returnees in accordance with the needs of the labour market, facilities for returning retirees and others; ...)

All Council members must participate in at least one Commission. The Commission to which most people signed is the first, Commission for Culture and Identity,

Also, an ad-hoc Committee was formed to advance in the theme of establishing direct flights between North America (New York, Toronto, Chicago) and Zagreb.

The composition of the Government Council for Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia is varied regarding the places where we live, the professions, life experiences and ages. Also with respect to languages, since while the vast majority of members is fluent in the Croatian language, most of us live in environments where other languages are spoken and a good number were born, raised and educated in countries with other languages.

But there is something fundamental that identifies and unites us all equally, and is belonging to the Croatian nation. That I have lived, breathed, and is no small feat.

I consider myself especially privileged to belong to a group, where there are generals, priests, scholars and people of high qualifications and experience.

The major difference of opinion was observed in the election for the President of the Council. We all agree that the Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina live a very difficult situation and are fighting for their political and other rights, which are being systematically violated. In short, they are fighting for their survival in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

About that there is no doubt. The question was if perhaps more could done to help the Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina from a centre of world power like the United States.

The idea that the President of the Council should be from Bosnia and Herzegovina prevailed, and dr. Nevenko Herceg, directive and professor of the University of Mostar was elected as Presodent.

This election is a sign of support from Croatians everyone to Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Presidency is further comprised of the following vice presidents:

a. Tomislav Žigmanov, from Vojvodina, for National Minorities
b. Luka Krilić, from Italy, for Europe Croatians
c. Ilija Nakić, for Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina
d. John Kraljić, Overseas Croatians (North America)

Messrs. Joza Vrljičak (South America) and Mladen Leko, (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) are members of the Presidency with functions of vice presidents, ad referendum of a change in the law, which currently considers only four vice presidents.

Joza Vrljičak

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Croatia and the World - 02 - Croatia, her Diaspora and the European Union

Croatia and the World - 02

Croatia, her Diaspora and the European Union

Several cases of embezzlement are known to have occured with the monies that Croatian emigration contributed, either for the defense of Croatia or as commercial ventures. It is well known that the Croatian Diaspora have contributed greatly in various ways to the liberation and independence of the Republic of Croatia. But here we are referring to cases of investments by Croatian Diaspora in ventures that ended badly. These are cases that have not been well investigated neither resolved judicially, remaining as impediments to new investments by the Croatian Diaspora.

The third issue of insecurity is rather broad, difficult and painful. We will mention here the most recent and sounded case. This is called "Lex Perković". The point is that during the communist Yugoslavia, her secret services were involved in pursuing and liquidate dissidents. In addition to cases within Croatia, and Yugoslavia, that criminal activity was committed in several countries, especially Germany. These cases have not yet been resolved.

We are referring to the case of Stjepan Đureković, murdered in Germany in 1983 by the Yugoslav secret services. This case was and is being investigated by Germany. The German court asked the governing extradition of Croatian and Yugoslav Josip Perković secret police, accused of ordering and organizing the crime.

The point is that Croatia, according to the treaty of accession to the European Union, was to deliver Perković once entering the Union on July 1, 2013.

The current government of Croatia did not want to give him to the German courts. So it passed a law a few days before entering into the Union, popularly known as Lex Perković.

The attempt to change the rules only days before the date of entry, was poorly received by the European Union, especially Germany. Clearly this was not a good start and thus it is difficult to encourage investment. Croatia finally relented and gave Perković on January 1, 2014. But the lost trust is not easily recovered.

As we have said, the other unholy activities of communist secret services have not been investigated and remain in the dark. The Diaspora expects the clarifying of that part of the past.

Croatia, her Diaspora and the Advisory Council

While the Law dealing with the Relations of Croatia with her Diaspora is a major breakthrough and is welcome, we believe that it is only a beginning and there is much to do. Much of the Diaspora believes that Croatia should come to a more mature relationship. Recall that Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia are as numerous as those living in the Republic of Croatia and they want to be seen and treated as an equal partner and not as a minority partner.

A few days ago a Croatian who lived in exile and returned to Croatia, was quoted as saying, "Croatia treats her Diaspora as a stepmother." The phrase is quaint and although we cannot say that accurately represents this complex relationship, it indicates something about the feelings of Croatians outside Croatia.

Croatian emigration (or Diaspora: every word has its advantages and virtues or defects) have expressed their wants and needs through proposals channeled through the Government Council for Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia.

Everyone wants to help strengthen Croatia not only in her economy but also in the social, political, cultural and many other aspects of a nation.

Within the framework of the Council of the Croatian Government for Croatians outside Croatia, a number of proposals and concerns were submitted, many of which have been published on websites such as , as well as Studia Croatica in Croatian, English and Spanish languages.

In turn, the Council is organized into four Committees, where its members are grouped by their different areas of interest, according to the law.

The four Committees are:

  1. Commission for the preservation and strengthening of the identity of the Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia.
(Helps the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the formulation of policies, measures and legislation for the preservation of the Croatian language, culture and identity of the Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia, the strengthening of Croatian communities through information and networking, cultural cooperation, cooperation in education and science, encouraging scientific and research work in the field of Croatian migration, ...)

(to be continued)

Joza Vrljičak

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Invest in Croatia

Invest in Croatia

In English

In Croatian

Croatia and the World - 01 - Croatia, her diaspora and the European Union

Croatia and the World - 01

Croatia, her diaspora and the European Union

Some years ago, before Croatia entered the European Uniom, we prayed Croatia not to forget her diaspora while doing that long-awaited and feared entry. Now with Croatia in the European Union, we understand that our fears as diaspora were not entirely justified. Croatia is not forgetting her people outside her borders.

Croatia has developed firstly the Strategy for Relations of the Republic of Croatia with Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia in May, 2011.

Subsequently the Parliament approved the respective Act, in October the same year. In turn, according to the provisions of the Act, the State Office for Croats outside of Croatia was created.

In 2012 according to law, it was established the Advisory Council of the Government of Croatia for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia.

This Council consists of 55 members from the countries of the world where Croats live. In the Council, Argentine Croatians has two representatives, the same number as Chile Croatians. In total, the Croatians of Latin America have six members on the Council.

According to the Act, the Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia are grouped into four regions or groups as follows:

a) Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
b) Minority Croatians in countries near Croatia (these are 12 European countries, namely Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia (Vojvodina) and Montenegro)
c) Croatians in Europe
d) Croatians overseas. At the same time, Croatians overseas are grouped into:
d1) Croatians in North America
b2) Croatians in Latin America
b3) Croatians in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Several of the countries where Croatians live before entering Croatia, belong already to the European Union.

Croatians of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Serbia (mostly in Vojvodina) live particularly difficult situations.

We believe that with Croatia in the European Union, a better protection for Croatians living in Europe can be expected.

It is known that European countries generally care much about the relations with their countrymen who live in various parts of the world. European countries also tend to have laws protecting national minorities.

Croatia in turn has a treatment and protection of national minorities living in her territory that is more generous than other European countries offer to the Croatian national minorities living outside Croatia. We hope that in the framework of the European Union and through bilateral reciprocity agreements, the Croatian minorities will have better protection.

Croatia currently lives an economic crisis. The entry of the Republic of Croatia in the European Union has not yet been accompanied by an improvement in the economic situation. It is true that Europe itself has its own economic depression, from which is slowly re-emerging.

Three factors are generally seen as making it more difficult the economic recovery in Croatia and especially capital inflows from abroad. The three negatives elements are: corruption, bureaucracy and legal uncertainty.

Corruption is a problem that affects all countries. It affects Croatia as well. It is also true that the country is moving significantly in the fight against this scourge. Proof of this is that there are currently a former prime minister and former director of the Economic Chamber of Croatia imprisoned for corruption. And still uncovering corruption. This is encouraging and a sign that progress is being made.

The bureaucracy is also a disease that afflicts many countries. Thus, investors who want to start projects in Croatia encounter more obstacles than incentives. Croatia (where it is called "papirology") is aware that it must improve in this regard, and in fact is taking steps to simplify the procedures that hinder economic activity and encourage corruption.

The third difficulty that discourages investment, especially foreign investment, and therefore growth, has to do with cases of legal uncertainty. We refer here to two cases related to the Croatian diaspora and particularly with the European Union.

The first issue is the return of property taken during the Yugoslav communist regime.

During the years subsequent to the end of the Second World War, the ruling regime took away many real estate properties both in Croatia and other countries of the then Yugoslavia. The Republic of Croatia, once becoming independent, tried to resolve the issue of properties taken and did so -or tried to-, by means of two Acts, one of 1996 and the other of 2002.

But unfortunately that remedy was biased against Croatians living outside Croatia. This is not the place to explain the legal details, but suffice to say that the solutions implemented ware very poor and are certainly an obstacle to investments of Croatian Diaspora in their motherland. It is time to seriously review the issue of the expropriated-nationalised properties.

Joza Vrljičak

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

200th anniversary of British navy occupation of Korcula

200th anniversary of British navy occupation of Korcula

Croatian Times 
by permission
By Vicko Marelic in Korcula

Two hundred years ago this week, the British navy occupied the island of Korčula during the Adriatic campaign against Napoleon’s revolutionary France.
The Royal Navy’s knowledge of the region probably went no further than the setting of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Peter Lowen, the captain of one of the ships did discover similarities with Shakespeare’s quasi-mythical land of bright sunshine, excellent food and fine wine. Perhaps he was inspired by Shakespeare to make the real Illyria look like the imagined one by helping to establish better government in what would become his home for over two years.
Alongside Vis, Korcula became the second major British naval fortification in this part of the Eastern Adriatic. Although the British did not stay long enough to introduce the locals to cricket, croquet and cucumber sandwiches, they did leave subtle stone structures to symbolise their short settlement.
The Mediterranean had been a focus of attention since Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign and seizure of Malta. The defeat of Austria at the battle of Wagram in 1809 had put most of the Adriatic under French control. In the same year, Lord William Bentinck, the supreme commander of the Royal navy in the Mediterranean, decided to make the island of Vis the navy’s major Adriatic base. He despatched Admiral Thomas Fremantle to seize Vis.
From their strategic base, the British navy could support its royalist allies the Austrians and the Russians, prevent the French from acquiring ship-building capacity and disrupt Napoleon’s continental blockade. This often included attacked ships carrying supplies like grain and wine all along the Adriatic. Paradoxically, the blockade actions of the free-trade supporting British had a detrimental effect on the regional economy, causing severe supply shortages.

After the fall of Venice, Korčula and the Eastern Adriatic changed rule several times, being controlled by most of the major European powers.  Austrian rule would be followed by brief Russian and French occupations. The Eastern Adriatic under French rule brought with its numerous progressive reforms such as civil rights, land reform and the first publication of a Croatian newspaper, the Kraglski Dalmatin. All this had been initially welcomed by sectors of the urban elite.

Whatever the benefits of French rule, significant conservative sectors of society such as the aristocracy, the peasantry and the clergy remained nostalgic for the status quo ante. The drain on the economy through high taxation, conscription as well as the effects of the multiple blockade meant that French rule became increasingly resented. By 1812, the French army had been demoralised after the retreat of the Grand Armée from Moscow. Perhaps it was due to this that the French contingent surrendered without much resistance on the 3 February 1813 to Fremantle. Two British ships, the Apollo and Imogene, dropped anchor near the Island of Vrnik, off the coast of today’s Lumbarda and ended French rule of Korcula on 4 February 1813.

Having taken Korčula, Fremantle established an agreement with the inhabitants creating a British protectorate. Like in later overseas endeavours, not having a written constitution back home did not prevent the Royal Navy from writing one abroad. The local constitution, written in Italian, stressed freedom of religion and the reinstatement of the churches’ position. The admiral was proud of his of efforts to introduce local self-government and states in his diaries that: ‘I hope all I have been doing at Curzola may be useful to our cause.
The constitution I have formed seems to answer all the purposes and I am much pleased by the reception I always get from the inhabitants.’ His diaries reflect a disappointment with the drunken behaviour of his sailors and an interest in the local population who unlike his sailors could hold their drink and dance elegantly.

Fremantle took the hearts and minds mission seriously, organising entertainment evenings such as balls for the local notables. The balls and entertainment coincided with the last days of the Carnival season, meaning that the overturning of daily life at this point in the year was not seen as uncommon by the locals. The admiral alongside Captain Lowen record dining with local families like the Boschi, whose suave style made a favourable impression on the naval officers. Over a century later, the British diplomat, adventurer and officer Sir Fitzroy Maclean is said to have bought the very same house that had hosted the naval officers.

Fremantle left Peter Lowen in charge, whose short administration of the island left structures still visible today. Coming from an island himself, Lowen seems to have developed a genuine affection for the sleepy medieval island, which led to numerous public projects being organised, not always with the consent of authorities in London. The construction projects all reflect the seafaring nature of contemporary Britain. The navy helped reconstruct the Western port of the city which was to become the major harbour for the city. The road from Lumbarda to the town itself was reconstructed using skilled local craftsmen.

Away from the historic town, overlooking the archipelago on the hill of St Blaise, a stern, pokey and charmless watchtower was built to keep an eye on the canal dividing the continent from the island. The fortified watchtower was designed by Captain Taylor of the Frigate Appolo and built with the assistance of British crews from other ships which made detours to Korčula. Formerly known as the ‘English tower’, Fortezza, is still standing and on a clear day offers a sublime panorama of the surroundings. Observing the historic town and the dozen and a half island archipelago must have given the British a good view of approaching French and Russian shipping as well as how the Mediterranean fades into the mountains.
In 1815, in the aftermath of the treaty of Vienna, the British navy left Korčula on July 19. The treaty of Vienna allowed them to maintain a strong naval presence in the Mediterranean in Corfu, Malta and Gibraltar.
 Fremantle had made a huge fortune from the surrender of some eight hundred ships of the French fleet. His services led to him being made a baron of the Austrian empire and eventually in 1818, he became the commander in chief of the British fleet. Although the British did not stay here as long as they did in Malta, Corfu and Cyprus, the naval officer’s frigates were followed later by a motley crew of British researchers, architects, writers, historians and military officers. Many would return and nurtured a lifelong link with the island.
Imbued with the spirit of the grand tour, in 1881, the Victorian travel writer and architect T G Jackson would stare from the Western side of the Adriatic and observe ‘the mysterious side of the Adriatic’. His book ‘Dalmatia, the Quarnero and Istria’ had an important impact on the UK, where the architectural splendours of Korčula and the surrounding region were visually and verbally revealed to a British audience for the first time. According to David Laven, a historian at Nottingham University; ‘Jackson tried to do for Dalmatia what Ruskin did for Venice and his legacy is important for British understanding of the region.’ One of his descendants, the renowned organist Sir Nicholas Jackson still performs regular concerts all over Dalmatia and performed in Korčula’s St Mark’s cathedral within the last decade.

Almost a century after Fremantle, the writer, regional expert and founder of the London School of Slavonic studies Robert Seton-Watson found in Korčula his first links to the South-Slavs intelligentsia, having been shunned by the aloof citizens Dubrovnik. His private correspondence displays affection for ‘my favourite backwater where some of my best Croat friends live’ and the island as ‘‘harbour of refuge away from the lion’s den of Zagreb and Budapest’. Seton-Watson would be one of the main organisers of the sculptor Ivan Meštrović’s successful exhibition in London’s Victoria and Albert museum. His genuine fondness for the region and its people would be invaluable during the last years of Austro-Hungarian rule. His relentless lobbying against the British government excessive concessions to Italy in Treaty of London in 1915 proved invaluable. 
The disingenuous and duplicitous Treaty went against the principle of nationality by surrendered most of the Eastern Adriatic including Korčula to the Italians during the First World War. In a memorable protest, no doubt influenced by his established local links, Seton-Watson claimed that ‘Germany has a better right to Belgium and Holland than Italy to Dalmatia’.
What would Lowen think of Korčula today, two hundred years after?  In the summer, he would be familiar with the sight of English speaking lads unable to stomach drink the local rakija. He would be glad to see that his stone structures were still in use. A short walk from the historic city, Lowen built a semi-circular stone terrace in classical style. The sizeable stone bench offers a charming vista over the Adriatic and the mainland. Perhaps regretting that he had never fought in the decisive battle of the Pyramids, Lowen flanked the entrance with two miniature obelisk which in a minimalist way, like the piazza itself, resembles the pyramids. 
The cobbled resting place still retains the name as the ‘English piazza’. Lowen seems to have caught the affection of the locals, who commemorated him with an inscription on the monument in Latin: ‘To Peter Lowen, during whose favourable administration this place of relaxation and this road suitable for wheels was built. Enjoying the freedom, the municipality of Korčula grants that this be commemorated.’ If Lowen was to sit there today on a summer’s day, he would be delighted to see that since his last visit, the locals have adopted water polo, one of the British navy’s favourite sports, whose outdoor swimming pool is visible from the very piazza he built.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Croatia Honors NFCA's Former President Ed Andrus and Retiring Congressional Croatian Caucus Co-Chairs

Republic of Croatia Honors the National Federation of Croatian Americans’ Former President Ed Andrus with the ‘Order of Stjepan Radic’ Medal at Retirement Reception for the Congressional Croatian Caucus Co-Chairs Elton Gallegly and Dennis Kucinich in Washington
For Immediate Release  – January 10, 2013
Washington, DC:   National Federation of Croatian Americans Cultural Foundation (NFCACF) members were pleased to attend the Croatian Embassy’s Christmas reception to honor US Congressmen Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).  Croatian Ambassador Josko Paro hosted this event in Washington to honor the outgoing Co-Chairs of the Congressional Croatian Caucus who were retiring from the US Congress.  In addition, the Ambassador presented Mr. Edward A. Andrus - former President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans from 2004 to 2009 - with the ‘Order of Stjepan Radic’ Medal.  This award is named for the distinguished Croatian nationalist, founder of the Croatian People’s Peasant Party, and ardent proponent of independence for Croatia.  Stjepan Radic was shot on the floor of the Croatian Parliament and died several weeks later in August 1928.  The Republic of Croatia honored Mr. Andrus for his five years of steady leadership services amongst the Croatian American diaspora and for his valuable contributions to the national, political, economic, and social success of Croatia and her people.  

The Ambassador’s expert diplomatic congeniality, with the support of his lovely wife Jasna and talented Embassy staff in Washington, helped make the event a joyous Christmas celebration for the two retiring Members of Congress.  In attendance were their supportive wives, Janice Gallegly and Elizabeth Harper, and many from their Congressional staffs who were able to attend the celebration on Embassy Row.  Mr. Andrus was pleased to have in attendance from Philadelphia his wife Betty, and their daughter Connie and son Michael.    

Ambassador Paro conveyed to the two long lasting friends and supporters of Croatia who were retiring from the US Congress an appreciative message in the form of a personal letter from Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.  The President’s letter expressed his appreciation to the Congressman for their dedicated service and their role as a strong voice for Croatia on Capitol Hill.  Congressmen Gallegly and Kucinich each spoke to the gathered crowd.  They highlighted how far Croatia has progressed internationally in a fairly short time and the bright future the Republic has as a reliable European ally of the US.

Mr. Andrus also spoke to those assembled.  He thanked President Josipovic and Ambassador Paro for the ‘Order of Stjepan Radic’ award and recounted the NFCA’s strong support for legislation that passed the US House of Representatives and US Senate highlighting the readiness of the Republic of Croatia to ascend to full NATO membership, which officially culminated in April 2009.  Mr. Andrus also reminded the attendees of the difficult push for passage in the US Senate of the NATO Treaty for Croatia and Albania in late September of 2008.  This end-of-year Treaty push was compounded by the US national economic crisis that was peaking while Congress was attempting to adjourn for the Presidential and Congressional elections in early November.  Current NFCACF President Bill Vergot also took note by stating:  “The Republic’s acknowledgement of our organization’s persistent support for Croatia’s western integration, her expanding democracy, and the steady development of her free markets is truly appreciated with the receipt of Mr. Andrus’ medal tonight.  I believe the entire Croatian American diaspora is pleased this evening.”

Mr. Andrus’ acceptance speech is attached as well as official photographs from the Embassy’s event.  If you have additional inquiries, please do not hesitate to contact NFCACF Public Affairs Director Joe Foley in Washington on telephone  301-294-0937.

The NFCACF is the national umbrella organization of Croatian American individuals, professional associations, and fraternal lodges that collectively represents approximately 130,000 members.  For additional public affairs information, please contact NFCACF Headquarters by telephone or by email via .  For important NFCACF membership information, recent newsletters, and other Croatian American news please visit our web site: .  Also, please consider donating to the NFCACF - and/or becoming an individual or group member – by visiting the website and using the easy PayPal button to do so.

National Federation of Croatian Americans
   Cultural Foundation (NFCACF)
10125 Colesville Rd, Suite 276
Silver Spring, MD 20901-2457
Phone:  202-681-6650 
Web link: 

Ambassador Josko Paro, Janice & Elton Gallegly, Dennis & Elizabeth Kucinich, and NFCACF's Joe Foley

Former NFCA President Ed Andrus thanking Republic of Croatia for the 'Order of Stjepan Radic' Medal

Longtime NFCACF members Tom Steich and Anne Pavlich with Congressman Elton Gallegly and Janice Gallegly

Mike, Connie, Betty and Ed Andrus at Croatian Embassy

NFCACF's Ed Yambrusic, Zvonko Labas & Joe Foley with Croatia's Deputy Prime Minister Neven Mimica