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By Nenad N. Bach | Published  03/19/2003 | Politics | Unrated


For Immediate Release 
Contact: Erik Milman 


(Washington, D.C., March 17, 2002). On Monday, March 10, 2003, John 
Kraljic, President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA), 
Steve Rukavina, a former President of the NFCA, Erik Millman, the Development 
Director of the NFCA and Joseph Foley of Foley Government & Public Relations, 
Inc. met with State Departmentofficials to discuss various issues related to 
relations between Croatia and the United States.

The meeting focused on a number of matters, including Croatia’s candidacy for
NATO. Mr. Kraljic noted that the NFCA and Croatian-Americans beleived that 
Croatia had been unfairly put behind Romania and Bulgaria in its bid for NATO 
membership. “We certainly support NATO’s expansion to include Romania and 
Bulgaria,” Mr. Kraljic noted after the meeting, “but any objective 
comparison of the social, economic, and political indicators shows that 
Croatia is way ahead of both countries. While US officials havecited to 
problems with respect to Croatia’s internal policies toward refugee returns 
and general civil rights, we noted that such problems were prevelant in 
practically all the other nations invited to join NATO at the Prague summit 
late last year.”

The NFCA also discussed its concerns with the International Criminal Tribunal 
forthe Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The NFCA emphasized Croatia’s continued 
cooperation with the ICTY and noted that Croatia’s determination to integrate 
into NATO, the EU and other Western institutions was being stymied by 
unsubstantiated charges made by the ICTY’s Chief Prosecutor. “We told State 
Department officials that we beleived that the Chief Prosecutor is 
essentially an official who was not subject to any control by the UN Security 
Council and was irresponsibly making statements regarding Croatia which had 
an immediate effect of Croatia’s re-integration with the West,” Mr. Kraljic 
Mr. Kraljic also stated that the NFCA expressed its continuing concern with
respect to the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH). “I expressed 
my frustration at the continued failure to bring a final peace to BH. It seems 
to me that we cannot call the Dayton process a success as BH continues to 
essentially be an international protectorate almost 8 years after the end of 
the war. The Croats of BH have especially suffered as a result of this 
continued instability having their rights to elect their own leaders 
overruled by international bureacrats.”

Mr. Rukavina brought up the possibility of a possible foregiveness of a 
portion of Croatia’s growing foreign debt. He also generally discussed the need to 
direct American aid to economic reconstruction rather than questionable 
think-tanks. “We find that much of the money earmarked for Croatia by the 
United States is used to fund expensive studies by American consultants the 
worth of which is highly speculative,” Mr. Rukavina stated. Mr. Kraljic 
added that he also pointed to the funding of various NGOs in Croatia by 
USAID. “We beleive that Croatia’s democratic transformation is stabilized 
and the need for international aid to NGOs in Croatia, some of which are 
dominated by ex-Communists,
is simply not necessary and indeed has added little to increasing civil and 
political rights in Croatia.”

The NFCA will continue to focus on the issues it raised at the meeting with 
the State Department last week in its lobbying efforts in Washington. The NFCA 
calls on all Croatian Americans to increase their involvement in the American 
legislative process to insure that the interests of Croatia and Croats is 
well represented.

The NFCA is a national umbrella organization which organizations have
approximately 130,000 members.

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