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(E) Attitude toward the educated professionals
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  09/9/2004 | Opinions | Unrated
(E) Attitude toward the educated professionals


Attitude toward the educated professionals

Recently, there was an article in the Slobodna Dalmacija which was reprinted in the Croatian American of Aug. 10. "One more Croatian graduate of West Point has left the Croatian armed forces". My initial reaction was anger at the graduates - until I read the article. I translated the editorial from the Croatian American regarding that scandal, and when you read it, you can form your own opinion and direct the anger where it really belongs!

E "The Unfit West Pointers"
translated by Hilda M. Foley
Editorial, Croatian American
Sept 7, 2004

Unfit West Pointers
Editorial, Croatian American, Aug.20, 2004

Putting it mildly, the differences which were occurring from the very beginning in regard to the schooling of Croatian cadets in American armed forces academies, mostly at the prestigious West Point, have reached serious proportions in the last few months. Recently, one more graduate of West Point, Mario Bogunovic, has decided to leave the service in the Croatian army, because of his dissatisfaction regarding the attitude toward him by the Ministry of Defense.

The United States has offered to the Croatian Ministry of Defense the education of talented cadets in the framework of a program of adaptation of the Croatian armed forces to the structure of NATO, as Croatia is a serious candidate for its membership. About ten highly educated graduates came out during the last six years of the programs' existence, who, after returning to Croatia expected to receive positions corresponding to their first class attainments that they received in America. In reality though, all of them received a "cold shoulder" after their return, regardless which party, HDZ or SDP, was in power. They idled, unappointed and even more so, very disappointed, with the attitude of the Ministry of Defense that had sent them to study in America. One by one, they started leaving the Croatian armed forces as they received , as highly educated graduates of American military academies, attractive offers from foreign countries. The latest one in this line is precisely Mario Bogunovic. He simply wrote a letter of resignation to the Minister of Defense Berislav Roncevic, packed his bags and accepted an attractive offer from abroad.

The Croatian Minister of Defense Roncevic declared in Washington last month that Croatia is interested in continuing the education of its young officers in America. He added that Croatia will demand from such graduates who left the Croatian army to reimburse the resources that Croatia has invested in them, even though the largest part of the expenses for their education was carried by the American taxpayer, that is, by the American Department of Defense.

This incident with the Croatian graduates uncovers best the prevailing attitudes in the Croatian Ministry of Defense. Going all way back to the time of the late Gojko Susak, in the MOHR (Defense Ministry of Croatia) and in the armed forces, a whole number of irregularities were uncovered which stretch to this day. All this is occurring in the process of Croatia's armed forces' adaptation to the standards of NATO. The logical question is, how is it possible that Croatian officers, graduated from American military academies, are not fit to be involved in this very process? The answer is simple. The Croatian armed forces and the Ministry of Defense are full of persons in responsible positions who came to these positions and ranks in the last fourteen years not because of professional standards but because of party criteria. Suffice it to mention the fact that in the Croatian army even the highest generals' ranks were given to chauffeurs and plumbers, etc.
or as during the time of Minister Rados, people got jobs in the Ministry of Defense because they belonged to a certain clan, resulting in the employment of several hundred people with the same last name. Even the latest Minister of Defense has received his position through party membership, because he was the HDZ mayor of a small place in Slavonia. With such a hierarchy and structure in the Ministry of Defense and the Croatian armed forces, it is not surprising that the highly educated Croatian graduates of American military academies are above all a burden instead of the professionals that the Ministry of Defense and the Croatian armed forces need and should retain. At any rate, with such an attitude toward the educated professionals, the Croatian army cannot count on a speedy adaptation to the NATO standards and early admittance into its membership.





Thanks for this.
It is interesting to see that the attitude that I see among academics in Croatia is present in all of Croatian society. I cannot tell you how many talented people -- not just Diaspora but from Croatia -- are being treated this way in academic postings if they go for training abroad.

For example, I know of one who was almost denied nostrification of his top-notch PhD because it did not conform to whatever guidelines the U of Zagreb has for its PhDs (in terms of length of PhD), which is completely silly as a PhD is not just about length, but about originality, methodology, etc etc. He only got it approved because he knew the relevant department chair personally.

Another person was refused nostrification of her master's because it was in a different subject from her bachelor's degree, and then I think her bachelor's degree was not recognized because the subject is not taught at the U of Zagreb as a separate degree. Both degrees were from top universities abroad.

Another, who has just won a prestigious fellowship abroad, was told that her job was not secure if she decided to come back. Talk about rolling out the un-welcome mat!

I have heard of others who are also having problems with nostrification because they have earned degrees abroad. This is happening across disciplines. I have heard of people in the sciences, social sciences and humanities to whom this has happened.

Other people are being denied positions as translators because they do not have a degree in the language they want to translate into -- even if this language is their mother tongue. So instead, much more poorly equipped home-trained Croats who have degrees in English or French or Italian are doing poor translations while those who have lived abroad and speak the language completely fluently (or as a mother tongue) are being denied these positions if they do not have at least a BA in the the language.

On a personal note, I was spending the day with one of my aunt's English students a few years ago to give her a taste of immersion in the language. We spent the day around Zagreb speaking English. Occasionally, I would switch to Croatian to explain something. Twice I was openly ridiculed for speaking English. Once I was told in broken English "I don't think you speak English very well" (hilarious as I am a native speaker) and then in Croatian "you're just showing off".

Basically, it comes down to envy. People are just so envious of anyone who can do anything just a bit better or who has managed to achieve something. Anyone who goes abroad to improve their knowledge and skills is envied and reviled, and it seems, ultimately ostracized.

It takes quite a bit of idealism to want to come back to Croatia, considering that all of these people could find jobs abroad that pay better and could give them a better standard of living. Instead they want to give something back. Unfortunately, the Croatian government is doing nothing to keep the skills of people it really needs, while other countries are willing to welcome them with open arms.

[I once told a Croatian government official that their policy on the diaspora amounted to: "Thanks for coming. Put your wallet on the table. Now leave."]

best wishes
Sanja Carolina


A story on which one can write hundreds of pages – I’m also grateful for both comments.

They permanently destroyed my original BA diploma by heavy bolded printing on its back once they decided that they’d give me a notification (and under a legal condition that I never seek another nostrification although they couldn’t recognize but one area of my study)

They used to send people to graduate studies just because the Americans insisted on a higher budget proportion for high education in order to give their money. (At least it was the case with the Ministry of Defense) Their motive ended there; but the ways of sabotaging it could never be exhausted, probably because of ‘pomirba’ and anyone could block you while the top officials were busy with their own things.

The top expertise valued there is manipulation and cheating and so…. One doesn’t recover his/her career quickly once they prove their ‘skills’…..

Ivana Arapovic



Thank you, Hilda and Sonja, for your comments. In '99 I was told by many students in Croatia that they were learning English and other languages fluently so that they could go to other countries to work since Croatia had nothing to offer them. The Croatian Government's myopia will eventually lead to its downfall. If the attitude and the policies do not change towards its own citizens and toward those who want to bring their skills and resources back to Croatia

Judy Feldworth


All the comments have been right on! We all love our country but we need to understand the "wrong" system is still in place because people have the wrong and close-minded mentality. Communism has greatly corrupted the people of Croatia and as we can see, still has an unhealthy impact on Croatian society.

Unfortunatley, and this is nothing new...the smartest, most talented, and most fortunate Croats leave the country...and with them taking their knowledge, skills, and trades. Thus creating a brain drain in Croatia. Those who have worked hard and have an opportunity advance our country usually get frustrated and find work elsewhere.

Basically the system is screwed up...but its the Croatian mentality that prevents it from being fixed. When us true patriots are united, outside and within our Homeland...Croatia will once again bloom and flurish!!!

Za Hrvatsku - Uvijek!
Jeffrey Bacic


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