development projects in croatiaLocated in Europe, Croatia is a country with access to clean water and an almost perfect literacy rate, standing at 99 percent. Despite certain successes, the country struggles with other issues, such as high unemployment which stands at 44 percent. Here are five development projects in Croatia that are creating change in the country.

Modernization and Restructuring of the Road Sector Project

The purpose of this project is to strengthen the institutional effectiveness, enhance operational efficiency and increase the debt service capacity of Croatia’s road sector. The road network in Croatia is the largest infrastructure asset in the country.

Croatia’s road network is of vital importance to its economy, as it encourages industry growth and tourism. By expanding the road sector, Croatian roads can integrate with other European networks. Furthermore, for the country to continue to maintain relations with other entities, development projects in Croatia like these are necessary.

Croatia Innovation and Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Project

One of the best ways to help reduce poverty and develop a nation is to increase innovation and creativity within a country. This project allows that exact thing. It aims to strengthen risk capital financing for startups in Croatia. This could also add a fresh wave of businesses to the country and potentially create more jobs for the country.

Sustainable Croatian Railways in Europe

In addition to innovation, infrastructure is another way to reduce poverty. Building up the country’s infrastructure could have many potential benefits, as evidenced by the Modernizing and Restructuring of the Road Sector Project.

The Sustainable Railways in Europe Project aims to further develop infrastructure in Croatia by improving the operational efficiency and the financial sustainability of the public railway sector.

The World Bank approved three loans totaling $183.4 million in support of the country developing its railway sector. Croatia’s railway system has changed dramatically in the past in order to meet the criteria of the European Union (EU). The loan and the project combined will continue to see more changes, including making the railway companies more customer-oriented.

Health System Quality and Efficiency Improvement

Improving the health system of a country is another way to reduce poverty within a country. Specifically, the project aims to improve the healthcare delivery system to better provide sustainable health services; rationalize the hospital network to streamline healthcare services; strengthen the government’s capacity to develop and monitor effective health sector policies and promote effective public health interventions.

Development projects in Croatia have made vast improvements to its health system in recent years. However, there are still areas needing improvement. For example, Croatia suffers from an uneven availability of healthcare across regions in addition to lacking quality care. The project would increase efforts to improve the country’s healthcare system and afford citizens much-needed care and increased access.

Together for Sustainable Development in Croatia

This project depends on community involvement to help sustain local development through networking and partnerships. Its specific objective is to “strengthen the voice of civil sector in shaping, monitoring and evaluating sustainable development policies on local, national and international level through networking, cross-sectoral partnership and capacity building,” according to Croatia Rural Development Network.

The project anticipates cooperation from Croatian civil society networks as well as European networks. Its ultimate goal is to have stakeholders for sustainable development and an increased level of citizen and CSO participation in the process of monitoring of sustainable rural policies. With such innovative tactics, Croatia should be able to find and develop more ways to lift itself out of poverty.

These development projects in Croatia are small, but necessary, steps in the right direction for reducing poverty and enabling growth.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr

cause of the bosnian warThe Bosnian War began in 1992 and lasted until 1995, though the cause of the Bosnian War has roots in World War II and its impact is still being felt in 2017. The war led to the deaths of around 100,000 people. It also spurred the genocide of at least 80 percent Bosnian Muslims, also called Bosniaks.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Balkan states of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia became a part of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, a communist country held together by its leader Josip Broz Tito. Part-Croat and part-Slovene, Tito checked both separatism and ethnic nationalism with stiff jail sentences.

Tito rebuilt Yugoslavia as a Communist federation of six equal republics, but the ethnic conflict was never far from the surface. Serbians disliked Tito’s recognition of the Macedonians and the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as distinct nationalities. However, these bad relationships alone were not the cause of the Bosnian War. The collapse of Communism in the Balkan states was punctuated by Tito’s death in 1980. Following this, the Balkan states clamored for independence.

Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in Yugoslavia in 1986 as a lightning rod for nationalism. Milosevic was a leader who deliberately created conflict between Serbians, Croatians and Muslim Bosniaks (the three main ethnic groups in the region). Milosevic, also called “The Butcher of the Balkans” took advantage of the ethnic tensions that would be the cause of the Bosnian War.

Croatia and Slovenia fought alongside Germany and Austria in World War I, while Serbia fought alongside the allies. Because of this, Serbs regarded themselves as the dominant partners when they joined the Croats and Slovenes in 1918 to found the state what would be called Yugoslavia.

By using old grudges, stirring up nationalistic emotions, and inciting dreams of a “Greater Serbia,” a country made up of only Serbians, Milosevic succeeded in rallying support for himself. By 1971 in Bosnia, Muslims represented the largest single population group. In a 1991 census, Bosnia’s population of some four million was nearly half Bosniak.

Bosnia’s Serbs, led by a man named Radovan Karadzic and backed by Milosevic, resisted and threatened bloodshed when Bosnia proclaimed its independence in 1992. The Serbs wished to remain part of Yugoslavia and create a nation only for Serbians.

Two days after the European Community and the United States recognized Bosnia’s independence, the Serbian Democratic party — whose members wanted to be part of the “Greater Serbia” — launched an offensive with the bombardment of Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo.

The Bosnian War was marked by ethnic cleansing, with thousands of civilians killed and millions displaced. On July 11, 1995, Serbian forces attacked and overwhelmed the city of Srebrenica, a city the U.N. had designated as a safe haven in 1993. The forces separated the Bosniak civilians at Srebrenica, putting the women and girls on buses and sending them away while killing the men and boys on the spot or bussing them off to mass killing sites. An estimated 8,000 people died in the massacre.

Following this, awareness and international outcry over the war reached its zenith. In November 1995, the United States sponsored peace talks between the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, resulting in the creation of a federalized Bosnia divided between a Croat-Bosniak federation and a Serb republic.

Tribunals over the war crimes committed during the war were established 23 years ago. Serbia only acknowledged the massacre of Srebrenica in 2004. Milosevic was jailed in 2002 on 66 counts of genocide and war crimes and died in his cell in March of 2006.

Last month in 2017, a Croatian general charged with war crimes had his sentence of 20 years upheld, and instead of submitting himself he chose to drink poison in the middle of the courtroom.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr


In 2003 Croatia received help from the World Bank to fix damage due to the war from 1991 to 1995. The Bank has rehabilitated roads, improved health care and implemented a national environmental action plan. Since joining the European Union in 2013, Croatia has followed strict guidelines keeping their country up to standards. Infrastructure in Croatia has been a focus and continues to evolve as the nation expands for locals and visitors alike.

The year 2016 generated many projects for improving infrastructure in Croatia. Reported by N1, almost ten billion kuna for investments in transportation that will be used for construction and reconstruction that will assist the transportation of people and goods. According to the Flanders investment report in April 2016, “Construction and Infrastructure Market in Croatia” better “links” were needed to connect inland parts of the country to coastland. August brought in a shift. Not only was emphasis placed on road safety, but also, “improving accessibility to inhabited islands and connecting the islands with the mainland.”

Durbrovnik – Neretva County and the city of Durbrovnik is an area of importance benefiting from the growing connections. With construction of the Peljesac Bridge and expansion of the Durbrovnik airport this city will be more connected to the rest of the country.

Infrastructure in Croatia is showing great results. From 2015-2016 transportation infrastructure gained high marks according to the World’s Economic Forum survey. At the time air-transport and railroads infrastructure brought in low marks for the country. In 2017 however, finance from the EU Cohesion Fund have been constructing ongoing railway and road construction, improving future scores from the forum.

From help of the EU Cohesion Fund as well as the European Investment Bank Infrastructure in Croatia is building at a steady rate. Known as Croatia’s biggest finance provider, in 2014 and 2015 approximately 1.6 billion euro was given to Croatia to finance various projects. With hopes high and a key player in funding Croatia’s infrastructure is on a great track to bridging natives as well as neighboring Europeans.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Steady Progress for Women's Empowerment in Croatia

One of Croatia’s major foreign policies is to support women’s empowerment, both domestically and internationally. With revisions to existing policies and the implementation of new policies, there has been steady progress for women’s empowerment in Croatia.

From 2001 to 2005, the National Policy for Promotion of Gender Equality, under the Beijing Platform, was the main policy that served as the basis for promoting women’s rights. Unfortunately, this policy was not heavily enforced.

Due to gender inequality and stereotypes, violence against women in Croatia has been reported in the thousands. In 2010, there were 15,198 reported domestic violence offenses recorded by the Ministry of the Interior. For some time, due to a substantial gap that enforced combat against domestic violence, protection was impeded. Currently, 18 shelters support women who have been abused through trafficking or domestic violence.

Although gender discrimination is prohibited in the workplace by the Croatian Labor Law, in 2009, women earned only 76 percent of the average wages men earned. However, seven years later, that percentage increased to 78.9 percent which shows Croatia’s steady progress.

The significant change for women’s empowerment in Croatia began in 2011. A national action plan for the implementation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) ran from 2011 to 2014. This plan focused on women, peace and security, specifically encouraging women to join peace operations as well as the police and armed forces. 

As of 2017, new and revised policies are being drafted with a focus on women’s empowerment in Croatia. The new National Strategy of Protection against Domestic Violence is being drafted, set to be implemented between 2017 and 2022. Further, Croatia maintains its obligation to “protect the human rights of the people living within its borders” as a member of the U.N., as stated on the Implementation of Croatia’s Domestic Violence Legislation: A Human Rights Report.

Croatia is setting positive examples for women’s empowerment, as it elected its first female president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Incorporating women’s perspectives in efforts to address and redirect initiatives proves that women’s empowerment in Croatia is no longer a faraway dream. With a focus on the social and economic issues Croatia there is hope for women in Croatia to not only be viewed as powerful but also treated as such.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Facts About the Ustase GenocideMost people know little about or have never heard of the Ustase – a Croatian, racist, Nazi-like movement formed in 1929 that ruled Croatia during World War II. Modeled after the Italian fascists, the Ustase sought to separate Croatia from Yugoslavia in order to attain Croatian independence and create a “pure” Croatian state, using genocide to rid the country of “impure” people. This dark period for Croatia resulted in the Ustase genocide.

Top 10 facts about the Ustase Genocide:

  1. The targets of the Ustase genocide were mainly Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. These groups were also the main targets of the German Nazi genocide (the Holocaust).
  2. Initially, the Ustase’s enacted race laws against the groups they saw as non-Croatian and who they felt threatened Croatian identity, much like how the Nazi’s established race rules against those who weren’t considered pure Germans.
  3. Additionally, like the German Nazis, the Ustase also established concentration camps to carry out their ethnic cleansing. The largest was Jasenovac where the Ustase murdered around 70,000 to 100,000 people.
  4. The Jewish population of Croatia was practically eliminated – almost all of the 40,000 Jews that resided in Croatia were murdered.
  5. It is estimated that about 30,000 Croatian Gypsies were murdered as well. The most number of deaths comes from the Serbs killed by the Ustase; it is estimated (on the low end) that 300,000 to 400,000 Serbs were murdered in the Ustase genocide. Some reports estimate that around 750,000 Serbians perished.
  6. The leader of the Ustase movement, Ante Pavelic, fled to South America after the end of World War II in 1945. He eventually moved to Spain and died in 1959 at the age of 70 and was never prosecuted for his crimes.
  7. The racism in Croatia did not end after the end of World War II, it continued into the later twentieth century with Serbs still being persecuted and even murdered as late as 1991.
  8. Even the United States was complicit in the continued racism in Croatia. The Assistant US Secretary of State who served as the American Ambassador to Germany during the beginning of the Yugoslav War, Richard Holbrooke, represented the US view that “The Serbs started this war.”
  9. Unlike the German concentration camps, which most often used gas chambers to murder the innocent people they targeted, the Ustase genocide was carried out through much more brutal means. Croatian Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies were cruelly beheaded, drowned and murdered in other barbaric and torturous ways.
  10. Even the German Nazis noticed the brutality of the Ustase. A Gestapo report to Heinrich Himmler from 1942 stated, “The Ustaše committed their deeds in a bestial manner not only against males of conscript age but especially against helpless old people, women and children.”

The shocking cruelty of the Ustase genocide has gone forgotten but should be remembered as an example of the senseless tragedy that occurs from allowing nationalism and racism to fester rather than rooting it out immediately.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in CroatiaA member of the Balkan states, Croatia is located in on the northeastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia- Herzegovina. The region has been experiencing a significant migrant crisis since 2015 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The population of 4.5 million is mainly composed of Croats, followed by Serbians at 12 percent.

Before 1991, Croatia was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Much of population was displaced by the war for independence between 1991 and 1995. Economic damage also resulted from the war and Croatia has been making a slow recovery since. About 11 percent of the population remains below the national poverty line. The question of how to help people in Croatia has been tackled by multiple nonprofit groups.

SOS Children’s Villages International is an organization that specializes in supporting vulnerable children in Croatia. Occasionally, some of the most disenfranchised children in Croatia do not receive proper care or support from government organizations responsible for protecting children. Abandoned or disenfranchised children that receive support from the ministries responsible for protecting children are often placed in institutional homes.

SOS Children’s Villages works in Lekenik and Ladimirevci, and in both locations, supports children by providing homes and education on how to live relatively independently. Most recently in 2015, the SOS Emergency Program in Croatia has responded by supporting children found unaccompanied, young people in general, mothers of children and pregnant women. In the last five years, the organization has started a kindergarten in their area of influence where children could be looked after. Child-friendly spaces were constructed as a result of flooding in 2014 as well.

Wondering how to help people in Croatia, and specifically, children? The SOS Children’s Villages International organization has established means of sponsoring an SOS village, as well as sponsoring an individual child. Sponsoring a village or a child provides orphaned children with a loving home and a more supportive community. This is a recurring financial donation occurring on a long-term basis.

Sponsoring a child also allows you to write back and forth and communicate with children in the SOS village. Meanwhile, one-time donations go towards providing emergency care, shelter, food as well as “Child Friendly Spaces.” Answers to frequently asked questions and more information can be found on the SOS Children’s Villages International website.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Croatia
Croatia, a beautiful country home to numerous tourist destinations, is quickly becoming the EU’s poorest and slowest growing nation. With 19.5 percent of the population below the poverty line and an unemployment rate of almost 12 percent, the situation is dire.

While these numbers may not seem especially concerning, they are deceiving, as significant income disparities exist in Croatia. The poor in Croatia experience greater income differences among themselves than most countries. Those living in small towns in the east and southeast regions and in rural areas are especially at risk.

These areas suffered the most from the Homeland Wars in the 1990s. The wars and the corrupt privatization of state-owned companies hurt Croatia’s industrial sector. Once an industrial powerhouse, Croatia now has turned to a less dependable and less lucrative service-based economy that relies on tourism for jobs and income.

 

Main Causes of Poverty in Croatia

 

  • Rising Foreign Debt: Croatia’s external gross debt has risen to €46.4 billion, which equals 108 percent of the annual GDP and is an all-time record. The debt is still trending upward and shows no sign of stopping. Consequently, Croatia’s credit rating continues to drop and the country cannot accumulate as much of the foreign aid it desperately needs.
  • A Six-Year-Long Recession: The Great Recession of 2008 severely impacted the Croatian economy for years. During this period, child poverty increased by more than 50 percent. The recession exacerbated issues already present in the Croatian economy and is a large reason why the country’s growth rate remains under 2 percent. Furthermore, the poor economic performance has contributed to a doubling of the public debt that has resulted in high taxes and fewer jobs.
  • High Unemployment: The last of the main causes of poverty in Croatia is high unemployment, especially among youths. Among those aged 15 to 24, Croatia has the third highest unemployment rate in the European Union. The youth unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 49.8 percent in 2013 and currently fluctuates around 30 percent.

 

However, Croatia is working to improve these conditions. For example, as a member of the European Union, it has committed itself to the Youth Guarantee Programme. Through this initiative, Croatia receives funding from the EU to build a support system for Croatian youths that would feature more opportunities for vocational education and apprenticeships in the public and private sectors. The goal of this program is to ensure that youth members receive a job offer within four months of registering as unemployed.

Croatia also is implementing the Strategy on Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in Croatia (2014-2020), which aims to reduce poverty and social exclusion in Croatia through a regional approach. Through initiatives like these, the government hopes to address the causes of poverty in Croatia and lift itself into economic prosperity.

Lauren McBride

 

Human Rights in CroatiaAs a newly elected member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Croatia is promising to protect human rights and fight against discrimination. Considering the unfair treatment of minorities and hate crimes that were written of in the Human Rights Practices report for 2016, the country has a great deal of work to do.

Out of the 24 reported hate crimes in 2015, 15 were related to racism and xenophobia. A recent example of xenophobia in the nation can be seen through the way policemen have been treating asylum-seekers from Serbia. Out of the 10 Afghani asylum seekers who were interviewed, nine reported that the Croatian police were physical with them. Not only did they punch them, but they also seized some of their possessions. After doing all of this, the Croatian police officers forced them out of the country and back to Serbia.

Another large issue in Croatia is the segregation of people with disabilities. People with disabilities in Croatia tend to lack control in their lives because they are placed into institutions rather than communities.

Although human rights in Croatia still need to improve greatly, the people are still making a conscious effort to fix the problems they are faced with. For example, the Humans Rights House Zagreb addresses the country’s issues and introduces solutions to help them. In 2016, they partnered with Gong to explain both the importance of and how to combat hate speech.

To combat segregation of people with disabilities, de-institutionalization has begun in Croatia, in an attempt to legally give those with disabilities their rights. So far, 24 percent of institutions have begun de-institutionalization. While this number may be small, it is a start to a solution.

Croatia, like every other country in the world, is nowhere near perfect. However, with the help of citizens and activists who advocate for what they believe is morally right, human rights in Croatia will continue to progress.

Raven Rentas

Why Is Croatia Poor
Croatia is one of the more economically unstable European Union countries, with 19.5% of its population falling below the poverty line. There are many regional disparities within Croatia, with some areas making efforts towards industrializing while others have done little to no effort. In order to improve the situation in the future, a question must be answered: why is Croatia so poor?

Many of the highest rates of poverty are found in small towns and settlements in the east and southeast regions of Croatia, along the country’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. These areas were the most profoundly affected by the Homeland War of the 1990s and failed to recover afterward.

Croatian poverty is often attributed to the fallout after Croatia gained independence in 1991 and moved to a free-market system. During this transition, there was very little progress made towards the privatization of industries, and some faith was lost when the government appointed political favorites to influential positions.

Many groups that depended on the government, including pensioners and previously middle-class people, suffered greatly because of the changing economic system and the impact of the war. The U.N. Development Program’s 1999 Human Development Program reported that, in 1997, the average pension was less than half of the average salary.  On top of this, many pension payments were often months late. Currently, the pension system is becoming increasingly overburdened as the ratio of pensioners to workers increases.

To reduce its poverty rate and answer the question “why is Croatia poor?”, Croatia is taking part in the Europe 2020 Strategy.  This strategy was developed to lessen the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2020. This goal will require the development and successful implementation of policies and programs that specifically target people who risk falling below the poverty line.

Croatia has also developed “The Strategy for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Croatia 2014-2020,” which seeks to identify population groups that are extremely vulnerable to poverty and social discrimination. These groups are usually made up of older people, single-parent families, lower educated individuals, disabled people, war veterans and victims of war and ethnic minorities such as Roma and Serbs.

By creating more social programs to support these groups and strengthening inter-European trade, Croatia can hopefully reduce its poverty rate and expand its economy.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Pixabay


The cost of living in Croatia is relatively steep in comparison to the minimum monthly wage, though expected growth in the region’s economy and hikes in the area’s minimum wage will benefit its residents trying to make ends meet.

This year alone, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 2.9%, according to the World Bank. In the following year, it is projected to increase by approximately 2.6%.

Items such as service exports, investments and personal consumption all contribute to the economy’s growth.

According to Wageindicator, as of March 2017, the minimum monthly wage in Croatia is just shy of $507. In comparison, approximate month-to-month living costs in Croatia total around $330.

Other expenses such as food, clothing and utilities often push the total cost of living over the minimum monthly wage. This fact means residents might resort to sharing a living space with multiple people, though these spaces are often not intended for more than one person.

According to an article from Croatia Week, in Zagreb, the country’s capital, the average resident will earn a little under $1,000 a month. Of these wages, just over $200 must be set aside for utility bills, according to the article.

A full week’s work is required to cover basic living costs in Zagreb. Approximately 38 hours of work per week are needed in Zagreb to cover the cost of utilities.

Compared to other European capitals, Zagreb has some of the highest utility rates, topping even that of London, one of the world’s most expensive cities.  The cost of living in Croatia is typically greater than that of its neighboring countries.

In recent years, a rise in tourism in the region has increased the cost of living in Croatia. Compared to other Eastern European countries, everyday costs are significantly higher in Croatia, though they are lower than in Western Europe and the U.S.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr