NFCA Newsletter Fall 2009
THE CROATIAN AMERICAN ADVOCATE
THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE NFCA
AND NFCA CULTURAL FOUNDATION
|National Federation of Croatian Americans |
2401 Research Blvd., Suite 115, Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: (301) 208-6650, Fax: (301) 208-6659
From Left to Right: Zvonko Labas, NFCA Past National Treasurer; Ambassador James Foley; Steve Rukavina, NFCA President; Jelena Rudela, NFCA Fellow; and Joe Foley, NFCA Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. State Department in Washington on September 1,2009.
NFCA Delegation Meets with New U.S. Ambassador to Croatia James Foley
Washington, D.C.- A National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) delegation of Steve Rukavina, Zvonko Labas, Joe Foley, and NFCA Fellow Jelena Rudela met with newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, James Foley, at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2009. Cathy Westley, the State Department’s Croatian Desk Officer, also met with the NFCA delegation.
It was a very positive eighty-minute meeting with the sixth U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. NFCA President Steve Rukavina shared with Ambassador Foley a number of details and background information regarding the NFCA and the Federation’s accomplishments over the years. The group discussed NFCA’s rigorous nine-year campaign to support Croatia’s NATO membership and the NFCA’s spearheading of the development of a fifty member Congressional Croatian Caucus in the U.S. Congress.
The Ambassador seemed very impressed with the width and depth of issues and initiatives that the NFCA has been engaged in over the last 16 years. He also stated his willingness to collaborate with the NFCA on matters of mutual interest.
The Ambassador quickly shared that NATO-related military meetings with Croatian military officials will be a heavy focus for him during the first few months in Croatia. He mentioned that there is a need for much more military cooperation and not necessarily funding—even though the International Criminal Court issue is now behind Croatia with the waiver signed. Ambassador Foley cited the need and significance of learning the English language for many Croatian military officers in order to enhance NATO military meetings in the years ahead.
The NFCA delegation also heard his views about the significance of more business development in Croatia and an increase in valuable American investments in the Republic. In Ambassador Foley’s testimony before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations on July 28th,he stated that: “Croatia still faces important challenges in fully establishing the rule of law and fighting organized crime and corruption against the backdrop of a worsening economy. However, the economic crisis could yet prove to be an opportunity to address systemic barriers to improved competitiveness and growth such as inefficiencies in the public administration and the legal system. The key factor is in the understanding of the Croatian leadership and people that the great reform effort needs to be sustained not because of demands from Brussels, but because their country’s future economic and political health depends on it.”
The NFCA officials shared with the Ambassador their personal beliefs that the Dayton Peace Accord needs to be revised and that there is an immediate need for constitutional changes to ensure equal rights for all nationalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The recent Cardinal Vinko Puljic trip from Sarajevo to Washington D.C. was discussed at great lengths and, most importantly, the issue of property rights in the region was also significantly addressed.
The meeting participants discussed some of the obstacles and specifics that remain regarding the overall bilateral visa issue between the U.S. and the Republic of Croatia. Lastly, the U.S. Ambassador invited the NFCA President Steve Rukavina to visit him when he travels to Zagreb in October. NFCA looks forward to collaborating with the newly appointed Ambassador to Croatia.
NFCA’s Delegates at the June 2009 convention in Gaithersburg, Maryland, including Croatian Fraternal Union National President Bernard Luketich, CFU Vice President Joe Brigich, and Ed Pazo, CFU Secretary-Treasurer
NFCA 2009 Assembly of Delegates Convenes in Washington
Rockville, MD- The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) completed its 16th Annual Assembly of Delegates on June 6 at the Gaithersburg Hilton Hotel just outside of Washington, D.C. The delegates came to Washington to discuss and formalize the NFCA’s new agenda in this promising era of full NATO membership for the Republic of Croatia and a new political environment for Croatia and the Croatian American community.
Steve Rukavina, the newly elected NFCA President, committed the organization to continuing its work to make a difference for the Croatian American community on a moment’s notice whenever new political, public affairs, economic, or government relations issues and initiatives related to Croatia present themselves. He stressed that :”The NFCA is so uniquely positioned to speak out for the Croatian American community in numerous ways at all levels of the U.S. federal government in the coming years.”
The NFCA schedule began early Friday afternoon at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building-part of the White House complex- for a meeting with the National Security Council’s recently appointed Southeast Europe Director, Katherine Helgerson. The eight person NFCA delegation engaged this NSC official on many issued including Croatia’s membership in NATO, the current political situation in Bosnia Herzegovina, matters related to Southeast European oil pipelines and future oil availability for Croatia, as well as Croatia’s future European membership.
On Saturday, some of the keynote speakers included former NFCA president Ed Andrus and Croatian Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. Mr. Andrus highlighted the NFCA’s many yearly accomplishments emphasizing Croatia’s historic accession to NATO. Ambassador Grabar-Kitarovic also took the opportunity to brief the NFCA Delegates about matters related to the recent NATO membership accomplishments, the current issue of pending approval for the ‘visa waiver’ with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and social security agreements that are of particular interest from the Croatia-U.S. bilateral trade and investment perspective.
Afterwards, elections took place where the newly elected President, Steve Rukavina, shared with all the Delegates his ideas on how to “grow the organization further after this milestone achievement of the Republic’s membership in NATO.” The new President felt strongly that the NFCA’s work must continue, and the NFCA’s network and friends will promote the organization as the representative of the Croatian American community at all level on matters involving the U.S. government.
The NFCA looks forward to another great year representing Croatian Americans, innovative projects in support of the Republic of Croatia, and choosing another excellent meeting place for our 2010 Annual Assembly next June.
President Bush signs NATO Protocols on Oct. 24,2008, with Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia, Ambassador Aleksander Sallabanda of Albania, and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer observing.
President George W. Bush signs NATO Treaty for Croatia
Washington, D.C.- At a well-attended signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Friday evening, October 24, 2008, President Bush signed the much-awaited North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Accession Protocols for Croatia and Albania. On the dias with the President were NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Ambassador Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia, and Ambassador Aleksander Sallabanda of Albania. The President had been a strong supporter of NATO expansion and of the inclusion of Albania and Croatia in the Alliance. In celebrating the progress of two countries, the President said, “The people of Albania and Croatia are helping move the world closer to a great triumph of history-a Europe that is whole, a Europe that is free, and a Europe that is at peace.”
The President applauded Croatia and Albania for overcoming communism and war in order to become peaceful democracies. Secretary General Scheffer added that the two new nation-states have demonstrated, by word and by deed, that they are willing and able to shoulder the responsibilities of NATO membership.
Croatian Embassy reception after NATO Treaty signing. Left to Right are: NFCA Public Affairs Director Joe Foley, NFCA member Marie McGuckin, CFU/NFCA Vice President Joe Brigich, Ambassador Grabar-Kitarovic, CFU/NFCA member Frank Jerbich, Honorary Croatian Consul from Kansas City Dr. Judy Vogelsang, and former NFCA President Edward Andrus.
After the signing of the protocols, Ambassador Grabar Kitarovic invited NFCA members and others in attendance to a celebration reception at the Embassy of Croatia in northwest Washington. It was an uplifting time at the Embassy reception as everyone enjoyed the political success for the Republic, great Croatian wines, and excellent food prepared by Embassy’s long-time “Chef Ivo.” Many guests had come in from across the U.S. to attend this special event, were in a celebratory mood, and eager to engage with Madam Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission Marijan Gubic, Defense Attache BG Mate Padjen, new counselor for Political Affairs Dario Mihelin, and other diplomatic friends from the Republic. Those in attendance representing the NFCA reached all the way back to the NFCA’s historic founding in the early 1990s. Three former NFCA President were in Washington for the Treaty signing, the first NFCA President and current U.S. Federal Judge Edward Damich, Mijo Radocaj from Ohio, and John P. Kraljic from New York.
NFCA member Slavko Brkich of Philadelphia, Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Marijan Gubich, and former NFCA President Edward Andrus at the Embassy.
Other NFCA members in Washington for the Treaty signing ceremony included Slavko Brkich of Philadelphia, Tom Steich of Cleveland, Peter Kraljich of NY, National Secretary Anne Pavlich, and National Treasurer Zvonko Labas. Mr. Labas noted before the ceremony: “I have painstakingly waited decades for the establishment of this close political and strategic relationship between my two countries-the one of my birth and the one of my citizenship. It is so gratifying to be seeing it happen in my lifetime.”
"This could not have been done without the loyal membership of the individuals and organizations that make up the NFCA" - Ed Andrus
Cardinal Puljic and his staff with newly elected Alaska Senator Mark Begich-the first Croatian American U.S. Senator-NFCA President Steve Rukavina, NFCA Treasurer Zvonko Labas, and NFCA Public Affairs Director Joe Foley.
NFCA Publishes ‘White Paper’ on the Visit of Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo, to Washington in February
Washington, D.C, USA: The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) has released a ‘White Paper’ report concerning the most recent trip to the U.S. by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo. In meetings with the U.S. State Department and Members of Congress arranged in part with the assistance of the NFCA, the Cardinal spoke of the plight of Catholic Croats today in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and to the ineffectiveness of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. The NFCA supports the Cardinal’s goals in BiH of equal rights for all constituencies, the return of Catholic Church properties, and his call for consideration of a new practical and effective constitution to fairly govern all constituencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
While Cardinal Puljic remains apolitical in regards to the final government, he proposed three conditions that could be applied to the Constitution in BiH which would prove most effective and practical. These include granting equal rights and veto power to all three constituencies at the federal level. On the regional level, there would be no single constituency with more than forty percent of less than thirty percent participation in the government structures. Finally, on the municipal level, there would be a ‘one person-one vote’ policy, since most local community units are comprised of the same ethnicity. If you would like to review the entire White Paper, please visit this link:
NFCA President Steve Rukavina, Michael Young, and Nenad Bach pictured with BiH Ambassador to the United Nations, Ivan Barbalic of Croatian descent, with former NFCA President John Kraljic and Matthew Kraljic at a October 13th U.N. reception honoring BiH President Zeljko Komsic.
Special Thanks to All of Our Rudy Perpich Fellowship Contributors
NFCA and our NFCA 2009 Rudy Perpich Fellow Jelena Rudela, would like to thank all of our distinguished members for donating to the Rudy Perpich Internship Program. Your ongoing support and commitment in assisting the NFCA has allowed us to continue our hard work and advocate for our great Croatian American community. Once again, thank you all for your generous donations.
Joseph Cindrich, George Perpich, Jean Dickson, Joe Rukavina, Hrvoje Hrgovcic, Josphine Mihelich, Ann Brown, Stan Cvitanovic, Matthew Mavretic, John Rebrovich, John Radosevich, Mike Grgich, Frank Perpich, Martin Hrgovcic, Rudy Kezele, Steve Rukavina, Andy Jezic, Mark Tesija
Special Thanks to Nenad Bach
The NFCA Cultural Foundation would like to formally thank Nenad Bach-artist, peace activist, and long-time supporter of the NFCA- for his ongoing support and dedication to our organization. Through his Crown web site, he has continually shown support and publicized many of the issues the NFCA is involved in. Without his support, the NFCA would not be able to garnish the attention and concern of Croatian Americans at home and Croatians abroad. Please check out his amazing web site which details accomplishments, news, and performances by Croatians from around the world.
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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