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(E) NFCA's Successful 10th Annual Convention
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/16/2003 | Events | Unrated
(E) NFCA's Successful 10th Annual Convention




For Immediate Release: June 4, 2003 Contact: Erik Milman, 202-331-2830


(Washington, D.C.). The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) 
Tenth Annual Assembly of Delegates came to a close on Saturday, May 31, after a 
highly successful two day convention. Thirty-five Croatian American activists 
from 15 different Croatian American groups gathered in the nation's capitol to 
welcome honored guests from Croatia and to discuss upcoming NFCA business 
development activities, public relations, and political issues that will constitute 
the group's agenda for the next year. The Assembly's activities began on 
Friday afternoon May 30, 2003, with a meeting hosted by the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce which was attended by selected Delegates and Croatian-American 
businessmen, officials of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, and an economic 
advisor to the Croatian government. The meeting marked a culmination of the NFCA's 
efforts at implementing an innovative new program between the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce and its Croatian partners which that will Croatian companies export 
products to the U.S. and bring American investments and technology to Croatia. 
On Friday evening, the NFCA co-hosted a reception with local CFU Lodge 1976 
to honor Mr. Bernard Luketich on his 25th anniversary as National President of 
the Croatian Fraternal Union.

The Assembly officially opened on Saturday morning with an address by NFCA 
President John Kraljic who detailed the successful accomplishments of the NFCA 
in the past year. He noted the resounding success of the recent fundraising 
campaign and the on-going lobbying activities. "I am excited by the energy and 
enthusiasm by the new NFCA officers and the board of directors and their 
commitment to the organization. The next 12 months will bring even greater 
prominence to the NFCA through our expanded role in the business partnership between 
Croatia and the United States," said Mr. Kraljic. Steve Rukavina, Chairmen of 
the NFCA Business Development Committee, provided further details concerning the 
NFCA's work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Rukavina and explained the 
evolution and the significance of this U.S.-Croatia partnering initiative and 
how it would assist many Croatian companies over the next few years. He 
further noted the hope that the details of the program will be completed by 
September and that as part of that program the NFCA will reactivate its Business 
Advisory Council in order to bring Croatian-American businesses into this 
partnering initiative.

Joe Foley, the NFCA lobbyist, discussed the legislative activities of the 
NFCA on Capitol Hill and at the State Department, including the appropriations of 
additional funds for Croatia and the upcoming legislative and political 
priorities for the organization. He also mentioned the role of the NFCA in the Tell 
The Truth Committee's successful efforts to ensure defeat of Helen Delich 
Bentley's campaign for Congress in Maryland. Danica Ramljak, representing the 
Washington, D.C. based Croatia House group, gave a presentation about the 
project and how it would benefit the nationwide Croatian American community. 

The Assembly Delegates and guests heard from four speakers who discussed 
business, economic, and political issues. Mark Van Fleet, the Managing Director 
of International Programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, described how the 
partnerships between Croatian and American companies would be forged and 
supported. He explained in detail how the project would work both in Croatia and 
throughout the US. He encouraged the Croatian community to be ready to offer their 
services, especially those in the legal, banking, and accounting fields who 
can serve as valuable resources. Dr. Denis Alajbeg, Economic Advisor in Prime 
Minister Racan's office, described the progress and the challenges facing the 
Croatian economy. Dr. Alajbeg took questions from the audience regarding 
privatization and productivity issues and why there is such a need for the global 
partnerships to assist Croatia's economic growth. Stjepan Safran, the President 
of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, spoke eloquently about his 
Chamber and its rich history. He also discussed the role that his organization 
would play in the business partnering project assisting Croatian companies within 
the proposed U.S. Chamber of Commerce initiative. Mr. Safran thanked and asked 
the Croatian American community for even more collaboration. 

Jonathan Benton, the Deputy Director of South Central Europe at the U.S. 
State Department, and Croatian Ambassador Ivan Grdesic spoke on the 
multi-dimensional perspectives of the relationship between the United States and Croatia. 
Mr. Benton discussed the prospects of Croatia joining NATO and other bilateral 
issues that affect American relations with Croatia. The American diplomat 
answered questions from the audience regarding the Adriatic Charter, the 
International War Crimes Tribunal ,and the plight of the Bosnian Croat community. 

Ambassador Grdesic first thanked the NFCA for its leadership concerning the 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce project. The Croatian diplomat addressed the delegates 
with his perspective about the complexities surrounding the status of the 
U.S. and Croatian governmental relationship. In his remarks, he addressed the 
factors facing Croatia with respect to the war in Iraq. Also, Ambassador Grdesic 
dissected a new difference with American foreign policy which concerns the 
American request for exemption from war crimes prosecution and why this would be 
so disastrous for Croatia.

The NFCA Delegates concluded the meeting by electing new officers and members 
of itsBoard of Directors. The new officers are: John Kraljic, President (NY), 
Joseph Brigich, Executive Vice President (PA), Zvonko Labas, Treasurer (MD), 
Anne Pavlich, Secretary (MD), Ed Andrus, Eastern Region Vice President (PA), 
Tony Dizdar, Central Region Vice President (OH), Jim Kresnik, Western Region 
Vice President (NE), Frank Jerbich, Finance Vice President (IL), Andrew Jezic, 
Assistant Treasurer (MD), and Steve Rukavina, Past President (MD). The other 
Board members are Miro Koletic (CA), Dr. Joseph Cindrich (CA), Otto Sutej (NE), 
Joe Cupich (NE), Joseph Rukavina (MN), John Balaich (MN), Jerome Brentar (OH), 
Louise Birt (MO), Dr. Judy Vogelsang (MO), Anka Lepetic (LA), Michael Benz 
(OH), Bill Vergot (PA), and Thomas Steich (MD).

If you have any questions about the recent NFCA Assembly of Delegates, please 
call the national NFCA office at 202-331-2830 or email us

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