Croatian national minority in 12 European countries
Status and positionThere are native communities of the Croatian national minority in 12 European countries: Republic of Austria, Republic of Bulgaria, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Italian Republic, Republic of Kosovo, Hungary, Romania, Republic of North Macedonia, Slovak Republic, Republic of Slovenia and Republic of Serbia. Under the influence of different historical, political and economic factors, Croatians have been continually migrating from their ancestral territories—from the 15 century onwards—to other European regions, which are now in the aforementioned 12 countries, and some of them migrated into these regions at the same time as into the territory of the contemporary Republic of Croatia.
The status and position of members of the Croatian minority is set up differently in each different country, in accordance with the respective country’s legislation and its international or bilateral commitments. The substance and scope of these rights are very different because there are no firm, binding international legal documents for the protection of national minorities as of yet. In general, the level of protection of minorities is an indicator of the level of democracy in the host country. Their protection also depends on numerous historical and political circumstances, which differ for Croatians in the 12 European countries mentioned.
Today, Croatians are mostly awarded the status of a national minority. Unfortunately, this is not the case in all countries. To summarize, Croatians have a defined status and enjoy minority rights—i.e. they are recognised as a national minority pursuant to the legislation of the particular host country—in Hungary, Romania, Montenegro, Republic of Austria, Republic of Serbia, Slovak Republic, Republic of Kosovo, Czech Republic and Italian Republic, in its Molise region, where Croatians have the status of a language minority.
Croatians are not recognised as a national minority and have no special rights in the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Bulgaria. Croatians also do not have the status of a national minority in the Republic of North Macedonia; however, the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of North Macedonia have concluded a bilateral agreement on the mutual protection of national minorities.
The Republic of Croatia has concluded bilateral agreements on the mutual protection of national minorities with four countries: Hungary (1996), Republic of Serbia (2004), Republic of North Macedonia (2007) and Montenegro (2011). For the purpose of monitoring the implementation of these agreements, intergovernmental joint committees have been formed, The Central State Office for Croats Abroad (hereinafter referred to as: the Central State Office) acts as the co-ordinating body and is responsible for preparing and holding sessions of the intergovernmental joint committees. Moreover, the Republic of Croatia and the Italian Republic have concluded the Treaty between the Republic of Croatia and the Italian Republic Concerning Minority Rights (1996), which provides for formation of an intergovernmental joint committee.
Members of the Croatian national minority from all 12 countries have representatives in the Council of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for the Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia—an advisory body of the Government of the Republic of Croatia which helps the Government of the Republic of Croatia in drawing up and implementing policies, activities and programmes aimed at Croatians living abroad.