EMN National Contact Point for Croatia organizes two meetings of the National Migration Network every year. At work meetings, representatives of the Network discuss new developments in the field of migration and international protection, evaluate the current activities and propose steps for further work and development. Also, national contact points usually organize national conferences on current topics involving wider circle of participants, including national and foreign speakers.
After introducing new members of the Network and informing about the main news, the participants individually introduced information about the newest developments within their scope of work. Afterwards, Prof. Dr. sc. Iris Goldner Lang, Head of the UNESCO Chair for Free Movement of Persons, Migration and Intercultural Dialogue at the Faculty of Law of the University of Zagreb, held a presentation on trends in the development of European migration and asylum law. The presentation was followed by the discussion on the topic with other participants. Following that, Patricija Kezele, Head of the Department for EURES and international mediation from the Croatian Employment Service, presented the findings of the Study on Inclusion of Third-Country Nationals into the Labour Market.
The last presentation was held by the National Coordinator who briefly introduced everybody with the Work Plan of the European Migration Network for the period 2019 - 2020., with an emphasis on achieving greater recognition of the EMN as a source of reliable and relevant information on asylum and migration between the professionals as well as general public.
Welcome speeches were held by the Croatian EMN National Coordinator Nikolina Patalen, the State Secretary from the Ministry of the Interior Žarko Katić and the Deputy State Secretary from the Central State Office for Croats Abroad Ivana Perkušić.
First session following the opening was devoted to approaches related to understanding the concept of diaspora and introducing the Croatian context.
The first lecture was given by Deepali Fernandes, Senior Migration and Economic Development Specialist from the IOM Headquarters, who emphasized the economic, social and cultural capital brought by diaspora members, typically very loyal investors. She also focused on brain drain, a problem occurring in many countries, pointing out that it needs to be turned into brain circulation, as noticed in the countries of the Pacific, Caribbean and Africa.
The second speaker was Karolina Novinšćak Kölker, a researcher from the Department for the History of Southeast and Eastern Europe, University of Regensburg, Germany. Her presentation focused on migration from Croatia to Bavaria and on the change in the discourse and the general approach to this group from ‘workers temporarily working abroad’ to ‘labour migrants’ in the later stage of the migration process.
Then, Rebeka Mesarić Žabčić, a researcher from the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, talked about perceptions and recommendations of Croatian diaspora members from Australia and USA. She conducted a research on the probability of the return of Croatian emigrants considering the high standards of living in the USA and Australia, and presented the results which included both strong emotional reasons for returning to Croatia on one hand and reasonable factors for staying abroad (higher salaries, better education system etc.) on the other.
Following that, Ivana Lučev, Head of the Service for Migrations from the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, presented the results of their research on reasons for leaving and returning to Croatia with similar conclusions. These results showed that in the last seven years a significant number of high-skilled workers emigrated from Croatia and that the majority expect significant changes in Croatia in order to for them to return.
The last presentation during the first session was held by Marija Matek, head of the Welcome Office at the Croatian State Office for Croats Abroad. She pointed out that the constitutional obligation of the Republic of Croatia is to protect, care and cherish the connection with the Croats living abroad. One of the tools for achieving this purpose is the establishment of the Welcome Office and production of materials for diaspora members (such as “Guide for Returnees”) as well as implementation of various projects (eg. “Roots”).
The second and third sessions were dedicated to examples of good practices in engaging with diaspora members. Lukas Savickas, Adviser to the Prime Minister for Economic and Strategic Change Management from Lithuania, gave an example describing the project “Create Lithuania” which persuaded many Lithuanians to return to the homeland. The Lithuanian government’s key challenge was attracting the talent, bearing in mind the need for more talent in most sectors of the economy.
The following two speakers were from two countries traditionally known for having large diasporas around the world – Ireland and Israel. Geoffrey Keating, the Head of the Irish Abroad Unit described the Irish diaspora policy which operates under five pillars: support – connect – facilitate – recognize – evolve. The focus is on adapting the policy according to recent changes in Irish migration trends (meaning more people returning to Ireland), and thus creating the programmes which are supporting these trends.
Arnon Mantver, Founder and Volunteer Chairman of the Center for International Migration and Integration from Israel, continued the session describing the role of Israeli diaspora in the times of change for the country of Israel. Mr. Mantver also gave his recommendations for building strong relationship with diaspora: encouraging establishment of diaspora’s organizations and institutions, long term programmes for diaspora, networking, fundraising etc. He also mentioned a few key areas to work on in the Croatian case: creating strong and sustainable communities and organizations abroad and developing the home country through partnerships with diaspora.
At the end of the session, some of the topics that were discussed were: the influence of mobility on the work of institutions of the home country, specific government programs for people who do not have contact with their home country, how to stop emigration in practice etc.
In the last session, Deepali Fernandes explained the results of IOM’s “mapping surveys”, through which IOM obtained numerous information related to diaspora's location, status of education, attitudes, professional interests etc. These data are of great importance for governments who wish to strengthen the relationship with their diaspora and to design strategies and programs that would assist them in skill transfer.
Finally, Audra Sipavičienė, Head of the IOM Office in Vilnius, talked about Lithuanian experience with massive emigration. Lithuanian government established the Migration Information Center for Returning Migrants called „I Choose Lithuania“, implemented by IOM, through which returnees can get help by receiving all the information they need. The government is trying to reduce emigration and encourage return migration through three components: emigration prevention, promotion of return and establishing diaspora contact.
The Conference ended with a discussion on various issues, with the main focus on mapping of diasporas, research and data analysis. Overall, this Conference provided a broader view of the Croatian diaspora, as well as of the potential which diasporas have in strenghtening and in development of their countries of origin.
Furthermore, a representative of the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Ms. Margareta Gregurović, delivered a presentation on the European Web Site on Integration (EWSI). Finally, the representatives from the National Contact Point announced the organization of the first EMN national conference on the topic "Diaspora Engagement in the Development of the Country of Origin", which will to be held in Dubrovnik in October 2018.
The main topics of the meeting were: decriminalization of humanitarian action, amendments to the aliens act, with emphasis on return part, new portal of the European Commission IRMA (Irregular Return Management Application), Integration Plan for persons who have been granted international protection and Work Plan of Croatian NCP for 2017 and 2018. A detailed report from a meeting can be found in the following document.