Cultural rights are enshrined in the Constitution (see chapter 4.1.1) and are implicitly constituent to the national cultural policy framework (1.1). This is evident from the sector-specific policies related to the right to artistic work (see chapter 2.3); freedom of expression (see chapter 2.5.3); the right to cultural heritage (see chapter 3.1); protection of intellectual and material benefits accruing from cultural production (see chapter 4.1.6); the right to equally accessible and available cultural, library, information and leisure services (see chapters 3.2. and 3.5); the right to choose one’s own culture as well as to respect culture, its autonomy and identity (see chapters 2.5.4 and 2.6). Discussions around culture-related rights issues in general are scarce and this topic as an explicit policy issue has not been widely debated.
Issues related to cultural rights are mainly viewed focusing on the cultural rights of national minorities. There are 22 officially organised minorities in Croatia: Albanians, Austrians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Poles, Roma, Romanians, Russians, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Slovenians, Serbs, Turks, Ukrainians, and Vlachs. All minorities receive state support through the Government Office for Human Rights and National Minorities. The total population of Croatia in 2011 was 4.284 million. According to the last census in 2011, Croats make up 90.42% of the population and 7.67% are ethnic minorities (the remaining percentage either did not respond to the census, or they responded by quoting regional affiliation, or they did not want to declare themselves). Apart from Serbs who represent 4.36% of the total population, all other minorities form less than 1%. The political and legal framework defining the position of national minorities is derived from the Constitution (1990, rev. 2001, 2010, 2014) and the Constitutional Law on Rights of National Minorities (2002, rev. 2010, 2011). Minorities have elected their representatives in the Parliament through a special electoral unit, and currently there are 8 representatives elected according to the rules of relative majority.
Minority cultural activities are predominantly traditional, e.g., preserving language, nurturing folk traditions, music and art, organising exhibitions, acting and reciting groups. The cultural activities of the Jewish and Italian minorities are widely spread and their participation in the cultural life of Croatia is more general. The Serb minority’s cultural activities are visible and observed as specific, while cultural visibility of other minorities is limited.
The Ministry of Culture and Media supports various programmes through the distribution of grants in art and cultural fields. All national minorities have designated reference libraries that are distributed over the country: BeliManastir City Library (Hungarian); Daruvar Public Library (Czech); “Ivan Goran Kovačić” Karlovac City Library (Slovenian); Pula City Library (Italian); Našice Public Library (Slovak); “Bogdan Ogrizović” Library, Zagreb (Albanian); Libraries of the City of Zagreb (Rutheninan and Ukranian); City and University Library Osijek (Austrian), “Prosvjeta” Serbian Cultural Association (Serbian) and “VladoGotovac” Public Library Sisak (Bosniak). The Ministry also provides support for the establishment of the “Prosvjeta” Serbian Cultural Association and the Jewish communities in Zagreb. In 2020 the ‘Kali Sara’ Central Library of Roma was opened in Zagreb, which is the only such type of library in Europe.
In 2011 the Slovakian Cultural Centre was established in Našice (the focal city of the Slovakian minority in Croatia), according to the reciprocity principle similar to the cultural centre of the Croatian minority which is already established in Slovakia.