Croatian Viewpoint
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As a concerned Australian citizen, I believe it is important to analyze the claim raised in the article 'Face of immigration was never Asian: Ruddock', (The Weekend Australian, July 11-12, 1998, pg. 4). According to Mr. Ruddock, the Australian Federal Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, the result of recent refugee and humanitarian programs from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, will be that "chain migration in the future is very much likely to be more from Europe than it has in the recent past". Mr. Ruddock refers to a recent emphasis on European refugees and potential future chain migration from Europe as a "properly focused migration program".
It seems that Croatia is in Europe when its migrants are referred to, but it is in the 'Balkans' when its own refugee policies are under international scrutiny! It seems also, that once in Australia , Croatian migrants become 'Southern Europeans' or 'former Yugoslavs'. Until such discrepancies are resolved, no future chain migration of Croats should be claimed or sanctioned by either the Croatian community or the Australian government. Other Australians may feel the same way.
In Australia no one should feel secure with the current, or future, focus on immigration from the 'former Yugoslavia '. For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has difficulties with codes which classify migrants from 'former Yugoslavia '. Australians have a right to know just how many, and of what ethnic background, migrants from the 'former Yugoslavia ' there are in Australia . The result of coding errors regarding Croats, for example, has been inequities in funding or representation within the context of a multicultural Australia . A great deal of stress has been experienced by individuals of Croatian background as a result of real or perceived discrimination, not to mention the current hot topic of multicultural funding abuse. For example, the public face of the Bureau of Statistics is its 'publications' and unfortunately Croats are invariably classified therein under headings such as "Southern Europeans", whilst Italians or Greeks are listed separately. Also, there is little news on Channel 28 from Croatia , as there is for other less numerous ethnic groups. In addition, recently the idea of establishment of an Australian embassy in Zagreb was turned down in parliament, even though a focus on ongoing future movements is publicly claimed from there! (an Australian embassy has been subsequently opened in Zagreb,)
Secondly, the Australian public should be aware of the situation in Croatia in particular, which is not generally known due to the media's almost exclusive focus on the plight of Moslems or Serbs from Bosnia . Recently, there have been scandalous attempts by a so-called 'UN International Committee for Migrations', to encourage happily resettled Croatian-Bosnian refugees in Croatia to take up yet another new life overseas in places such as Australia . Obviously, if these refugees were to have to move again they should be able to return to their original homes in Bosnia-Hercegovina as stipulated by the Dayton Accords. Investigations by the Croatian government revealed that there is no such UN body. (source: Croatian Weekly, No. 321, June 5, 1998 , pg. 3, and subsequent issues) Any action which could be interpreted as facilitating 'ethnic cleansing' must be examined, and this must be seen as a priority for peace.
In the past it was the mass emigration of Croats to overseas destinations which altered the ethnic balance in the former Yugoslavia . Both 'push' and 'pull' factors were operational. Of course, in the free world immigration opportunities should be accessible; nevertheless, it is obvious that individuals from either the 'former Yugoslavia' or from the 'Middle East', such as from Israel for example, would be extremely concerned with the current 'focus' of the Australian Immigration Department's kit, launched in Adelaide by Mr. Ruddock.
Clearly, at this delicate time in the history of peoples from the 'former Yugoslavia' their ethnic balance is crucial to political stability, not to mention what the catastrophic results would be of any further 'brain drain'. Socio/economic development, and peace, in Croatia are dependent upon the maintenance of its ethnic/demographic balance. For this reason alone, future immigration to Australia, of Croats in particular, should not be 'claimed' as the answer to 'One Nation's' attack on immigration, otherwise the evenhanded application of the Dayton Accords will be impossible. Peace in the Croatian region is dependant upon the maintenance of an ethnic balance, and if conflict is allowed to erupt again, ordinary Australians will be potentially put at risk as future UN peacekeepers.
Jean Lunt Marinovic
July 1998
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