NATIONAL FEDERATION OF CROATIAN AMERICANS CALLS FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR CROATIA
(Washington, D.C., March 18, 2002). The National Federation of Croatian Americans calls on all Croatian Americans to urgently contact their Congressmen concerning proposed United States assistance to Croatia for Fiscal Year 2003.
The budget proposal allocates only $30 million to Croatia and $50 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This compares with proposed allocations of $110 million for Serbia, $25 million for Montenegro and $85 million for Kosovo.
Of interest is the comparison with aid proposed to be given to other states that were not formerly part of Yugoslavia. Albania and Bulgaria will each get $28 million and Romania $29 million under the proposal, a minor difference in comparison to the amount proposed for Croatia.
John Kraljic, President of the NFCA, notes that Croatia has consistently fulfilled its international obligations, including those concerning the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. "Despite the fact that the indictments brought against a number of Croatian military officers contain numerous questionable charges, the Croatian government has nevertheless been committed to complying with demands to turn over indictees and evidence. This has certainly not been the case with Serbia."
The Republic of Croatia remains in dire need of additional assistance from the United States. "The Republic of Croatia appears to have stabilized is financial and monetary system, but the economy still has a long way to go. The Croatian government will likely have to cut additional costs to balance its budget at a time when more than 400,000 remain unemployed. Croatia continues to suffer from the effects of having its territory occupied for four years. Mines remain a problem, houses have not been rebuilt, fields remain fallow."
Mr. Kraljic further noted that the present poor economic problems were exacerbated during NATO's 1999 war against Serbia. "Croatia supported the United States in its determination to stop Serbian aggression on Kosovo and freely allowed its air space to be used by NATO planes to accomplish their mission. This was all done at tremendous costs to Croatia's tourist industry, one of Croatia's most important. The 1999 tourist season turned into a disaster because of this."
The need for assistance is clear. Croatia's road to democracy and full integration with the West depends completely on its ability to stand on its own two feet. Croatia may be headed that way but it's not there yet. "Croatia still needs its training wheels," Mr. Kraljic noted. "This proposal suggests to Croatia that the United States no longer cares about Croatia. Croatia, however, remains in need of this assistance."
The NFCA is a national umbrella organization whose members have approximately 130,000 members.
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