First conference of the American Association of Croatian Professionals (AACP) in Washington, DC

By Alejandra Pavisich

The first conference of the American Association of Croatian Professionals Croatians (AACP) was held last week at the Embassy Row Hotel in Washington, DC, United States. This conference was supported by the Croatian Embassy in the United States and had the participation of the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, as well as the Ambassador of Croatia to the United States Mr. Josip Paro.

The conference was attended by 200 members of the AACP from various US cities and Canada that are part of a diverse group of entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and professionals from various areas, who live and work in the United States. The conference began with a formal reception held at the Croatian Embassy in Washington with the participation of diverse people of the Croatian community in Washington, D.C. in the States. 

The event had several panel discussions on the following topics: Arts & Entertainment, the future of US – Croatia relations, the Croatian Space Program, health needs and opportunities, immigration and real estate, biotechnology and new businesses.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic expressed the following views in the coverage by Branka Slavica HRT (Croatian Radio Television ) “I have to congratulate the organizers of this event, because they have gathered so many successful people in the United States, who have met and discussed issues and specific ways on  how they can strengthen cooperation between the motherland and the Croatian emigrant”, said President Grabar-Kitarovic. “As I have said in the speech, those who left Croatia did not only  do so because of potential investments overseas, not only because of demographic trends, but because the business experience they have gained in other countries where it the government has a transparent system of state administration, where business, as well as fast business start-ups are possible, because the level of corruption is certainly much lower than in Croatia. We need your ideas to create permanent strategies to enable Croatia to leave the same problems have kept it stalled in its development, “she added.

Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic by Miroslav Loncar
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic addresses the 1st Conference of the American Association of Croatian Professionals (AACP) in Washington, DC. Photo: Miroslav Loncar

During her speech, President Grabar-Kitarovic  mentioned that “the main problem that Croatia faces today is demographic, since the population is aging and there are more deaths than births per capita. The Commission of the European Union has done a study on Croatia which predicts that some 200,000 young Croatian people with professional qualifications and degrees will leave Croatia by 2019, while 1,000 people emigrate to Germany every month. People are leaving Croatia to seek opportunities for more lucrative work, but they do so because the mood is pessimistic, and young people are looking for opportunities outside Croatia. We are not naive to invite you young people to return to Croatia, we are aware of the problems we have, we are still fighting corruption, building an administration that is transparent, efficient and fast as the administration in the United States, we are creating an investment climate that is attractive to foreign investors. ” To view the full speech of President Grabar-Kitarovic  in English visit this link Amanda Grverac.
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Marko Zoretic, President of the American Association of Croatian Professionals (AACP). Photo: HRT

Likewise, the President of the AACP Marko Zoretic said the following, “Today’s event was great. Everyone with whom I spoke expressed their enthusiasm. It is a rearranging of expectations. In the past there was a great number of missed opportunities, and low expectations of Croatian immigrants in the United States. I think we are now all world-class professionals, we are inspired by what we do, we have a lot of experience, we have to connect with each other and with Croatia. Due to the fact that we are professionals who connect to the same culture, we must seize these opportunities.”

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