NFCA Meets With American Officials To Discuss IssuesS
National Federation of Croatian Americans
2401 Research Blvd, Suite 115
Rockville, MD 20850
Tel: (301) 208-6650
Fax: (301) 208-6659
NFCA MEETS WITH AMERICAN GOVERNMENTAL OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS ISSUES AFFECTING
THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC - May 31, 2006) On Monday, May 22, 2006, Mr. Ed Andrus, the
President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA), led a
delegation of NFCA officers in meetings with Mr. Bert Braun, the Director
for Southern European Affairs for the National Security Council at the White
House, Mr. Kurt Volker, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Mr. Daniel Sainz, Principal Deputy
Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the State
The meetings were held as part of the NFCA's long-standing efforts to build
support for Croatia's entry into NATO and other Western institutions with
Members of the Bush Administration as well as with Members of Congress.
In addition to Mr. Andrus, the delegation consisted of Mr. Steve Rukavina,
the Vice President of the NFCA, Mr. Zvonko Labas, the Treasurer of the NFCA,
Mr. John Kraljic, the Past President of the NFCA, and Mr. Joseph Foley, the
NFCA's Government and Public Relations Director.
Mr. Andrus opened both meetings with a brief statement to position the
discussions. He noted that Croatia has met all hurdles that had been placed
on its path toward NATO membership. He pointed to the continuing
development of democratic institutions and the partnership agreements
Croatia has made with its neighbors, which have allowed it to become the
leader in the region.
Other members of the delegation reinforced Mr. Andrus' statements through an
engaging and constructive interchange. It was noted, among other pluses,
that the addition of Croatia to NATO will bring stability to Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Emphasis was also placed on the positive contributions that
Croatia will make to the Alliance as a full NATO member.
Mr. Andrus stated that the meetings with Mr. Braun and Mr. Volker generally
were very positive. "In the fifteen years that we and our members have been
engaged in lobbying in Washington, these meetings represented two of the
most positive we have had with Executive branch policy officials," Mr.
"Of course," Mr. Andrus continued, "Croatia is close to NATO membership, but
a number of obstacles remain. Some of these are of a technical nature
dealing with the further professionalization of the Croatian Army. However,
what we uniformly heard was a concern expressed with popular opinion
polls that show that Croatians currently have a relatively low level of
support for NATO membership. We noted that such poll numbers cannot be
viewed as being determinative. Practically all political parties in Croatia
- whether on the left, right, or center - support NATO membership as one of
the most important foreign policy goals of Croatia. Moreover, such poll
numbers are reflective of the negative policies adopted by the United States
and the EU towards Croatia over the past 5 years when, despite having
satisfied 626 of the 627 demands of the ICTY, Croatia continued to be
unfairly labeled for not cooperating with the ICTY as a result of one
fugitive who was not even in the country."
Mr. Andrus further recognizes that some of the anti-NATO sentiment in
Croatia may be tied to a general concern with current American foreign
policies, especially in Iraq which is unpopular with many Europeans. "It is
important to remember that NATO was not involved in the invasion of Iraq,
though of course certain NATO members were. NATO is involved in the
rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan, but certainly most Croatians can
appreciate that the war in Afghanistan was targeted at a nest of terrorist
bent on worldwide destruction. It is also worth noting that NATO belongs to
the countries of the Alliance, most of whom are European, and that all
members have enjoyed peace and prosperity for over sixty years under the
protection of NATO. I believe that when these facts are presented to the
Croatian people by their political leaders, the poll numbers will almost
certainly show a dramatic positive change."
The NFCA delegation did not limit its discussions to NATO. Issues were also
raised regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina and the NFCA's concern with respect
to the status of the Croatian community there; the appointment of Mr.
Robert Bradtke as the new U. S. Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia; Vice
President Cheney's recent trip to Dubrovnik where he underlined U.S. support
for Croatia; and, support for the defense of General Gotovina and other
indicted Croatian military and political officials at the ICTY.
Mr. Andrus stated following the meetings that issues related to NATO and
other matters of concern to Croatian Americans will continue to be the focus
of the NFCA's efforts. "In addition to our meetings with Administration
officials, we will work with our friends in the Congressional Croatian
Caucus to build further support for all initiatives which will be beneficial
to Croatia and Croats."
These issues will no doubt be further explored at the NFCA's Annual Assembly
of Delegates to be held on June 3, 2006 in Kansas City, Missouri, where
representatives from throughout the United States will participate.
The NFCA is a national umbrella organization of Croatian American groups
that collectively represents approximately 130,000 members. For additional
public affairs information or information concerning the Annual Assembly of
Delegates, please call Mr. Joe Foley, NFCA Government and Public Affairs
Director, at 301-294-0937, or Mr. Ed Andrus, NFCA President, at the NFCA
Headquarters at (301) 208-6650, or by email at NFCAhdq@verizon.net.
For recent NFCA newsletters, important NFCA membership and chapter
information, and other Croatian-American news please visit the NFCA's web
site at www.nfcaonline.com.