Tomorrow, 4 December, parliamentarian elections will take place in Croatia. I have been several times in Croatia. The country faced quite a turbulence in their political situation. The corruption, difficult economic situation and also the accession to the European Union caused a lot of uncertainties for the people of Croatia (also shown by many demonstrations this year). This resulted in a decrease of trust in their leaders and parliament. However. I was very impressed by the new political party HRAST. This party is focused on basic Christian Democratic values and finds basic values like human dignity (protection for life from conception until natural death) and family values of main importance. However, this does not mean that they neglect other important areas. In October they organized an important conference about "Croatian economic perspectives" where the situation of the Croatian economy and the economic program of HRAST was discussed. Together with Dutch Christian Union senator and expert Peter Ester I participated to this event.
Please find the report of this meeting made by HRAST representative Slavko Vukmanov below.
Family and Education - the basis for a sustainable economy in Croatia
It becomes more clear that we need to build a healthy society and strong economy that both lean on values such as respect for family and assiduity. This was one of the conclusions of the Roundtable held under the title ”Current situation and perspectives of Croatian economy” on 21st October in Zagreb, Croatia.
Among the speakers were Dutch Senator Peter Ester, Leo van Doesburg, the ECPM representative for Middle and Eastern Europe, Tomislav Nürnberger, co-author of economic program of HRAST, Zdravko Roško, ICT consultant, Nikola Šopar, a manager and specialist for creating business opportunities, and prof. Ljubo Jurčić, an economic expert.
Mr. van Doesburg welcomed main speaker Mr. Ester on behalf of the ECPM and thanked him for finding the time for participating in this Roundtable and co-opened it.
Senator Ester is member of the ChristenUnie and also an expert in the field of labor issues, Mr. Ester pointed out that we all need a value based society, since it is society who generates just business opportunities and fair progress. The problem is that modern people are not accustomed to saving or be moderate, but want it all and want it immediately. That leads us to a consumer (not producer) society, and determines our lifestyle as living on a debt. It is us as Christian economists and politicians to highlight that common practice which is contradicting with Biblical principles.
Also, the family is heavily neglected in this modern lifestyle which is rather demanding. People have to work more and more and have very limited time and opportunities to for their family. Parents can not spend enough time with their children which often leads to negative consequences (like school drop outs) which ultimately lead to persons who cannot contribute to society. That puts us in a position of a closed circle and leads to a greater economic and debt-problem situation. As opposed to that, it is our role to think of future generations and leave them a better heritage more based on solid families and finances instead of more debt and more dropouts.
Furthermore, Mr. Ester reflected on the education system which needs to be in closed relationship with the economy, in order to promptly offer the work profile that is currently needed. Otherwise, we may educate future job seekers who will always be a step behind the market′s demand, which eventually will cost much more than a vivid and open-to-situation changes in education system. So, the investment in education is and must become the first goal of any society!
Of course, Christian politicians, must always be recognizable by that specific ”Biblical add-on”, since teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ is relevant nowadays too and it is our duty to implant it in this changing 21st century too. In fact, it is the only sustainable way of doing business and leading a country on the long run.
Following Mr. Ester′s thoughts, Mr. Nürnberger, member of Great Council of HRAST and co-author of it′s Economic program explained the program, which seeks for deep cuts in current′s way of doing business, to the audience. Mr. Nürberger run through it stressing out the necessity of shifting from the current consumer economy towards a technological economy. He spoke about the brain drain problem and stated that we should not be just a beautiful country, but a country you would love to come and live because we give knowledge, experience and youth a chance.
A Croatian economic expert and former candidate for the position of Prime Minister, Mr. Ljubo Jurčić reminded the audience of the political-economic crisis in 20th century. More exactly, he spoke about crucial factors of the Croatian economy focusing on the reasons that generated the current economic problems in Croatia. He agreed that education is intertwined with economy and vice-versa. Apart from investing in education, Croatia needs to determine in which fields of production is has a comparative advantage and strengthen domestic production.
The Roundtable was organized by HRAST and ECPM who have very good relations for almost a year. In fact, right after the event, there was a Great Council meeting of HRAST where a proposal that HRAST should become an associated member of ECPM was unanimously accepted. Both organizations saw it as a firm step towards even better and tighter collaboration in promoting Christian values in two countries’, as well as in EU′s politics.
Slavko Vukmanov, bacc. theologian
Coordinator′s deputy for HRAST in Istria & Kvarner (CRO)