Much effort is being invested in support for cross-border co-operation projects, both by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. Initiatives are usually carried out by NGOs which apply for government funding. Co-operation programmes include joint education programmes, co-operation in promoting common heritage, student camps etc. The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) was officially launched at the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Sofia, on 27 February 2008, as the successor to the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe. The RCC Secretariat is situated in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The RCC Board decided on the establishment of the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society during 2010. The meeting held in Cetinje, Montenegro, on 22-25 June 2011 marks the formal establishment of the RCC Task Force on Culture and Society and the opening of the Task Force Secretariat in Cetinje (RCC TFCS). The main objective of the RCC TFCS for the period 2011-2014 is to coordinate activities at the regional level and monitor the implementation of the “Ljubljana Process II – Rehabilitating our Common Heritage”, supported by the European Commission and the Council of Europe. RCC TFC organized a conference in Dubrovnik 27-28 October 2014 entitled ‘Cultural Heritage Rehabilitation as a Key to Sustainable Development’ during which Dubrovnik Declaration was adopted. The Declaration incorporates all the documents and initiatives and integrates European Union guidelines on cultural heritage usage and management.
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
Promotion of intercultural dialogue is a relevant issue in Croatia and appears on the agenda of cultural, media, educational and social policies. However, there are no explicitly formulated policies for the promotion of intercultural dialogue nor is there a special fund or support scheme. It is important to note that due to recent Croatian history and the consequences of the Homeland war, the issue of integration and re-integration of minorities, coexistence, as well as resettlement of refugees and displaced persons have been for some time very high on the list of political priorities. It should be mentioned that Croatia is not a country receiving any substantial number of immigrants other than those from neighbouring countries. This is why the issue of intercultural dialogue within the country remains largely an issue of social integration and creating equal opportunities for all minorities. The recent migrant crisis opened up the issue of changing asylum and migration policies but no specific measures relating to intercultural dialogue have been made.
There are numerous NGOs and initiatives, both on national and regional levels, focussing on issues of intercultural dialogue. Examples of good practice that continue each year include:
- BEJAHAD – Jewish cultural scene – a project that has been taking place for more than ten years. The programme consists of a week-long series of cultural programmes, activities and debates where, every year, the Jewish community invites one of the other minority groups from the region as well as a Jewish community from one of the European countries to cooperate in the organisation of this programme.
- Literary seminar “The Days of Vladan Desnica” named after a famous Croatian writer of Serbian nationality. The seminar promotes intercultural dialogues through debates about literature and broader topics.
- Since 2006, “Days of Serbian Culture” organised by the Serbian Cultural Association “Prosvjeta” present contemporary Serbian culture during a week-long festival in Zagreb.
- Days of Italian Culture and Language in Rijeka.
- World Day of the Romani language.
Other examples of good practice that deal with the issues of intercultural dialogue:
- Croatia actively contributed in the process of writing the White Book of Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe;
- The National Foundation for Civil Society Development is the coordinator of the Anna Lindh Foundation – ALF (projects promoting dialogue between cultures of the Euromediterranean region) through the Croatian Network for Cooperation in the Mediterranean.
- Intercultural dialogue is widely promoted through a number of EU supported cultural and educational projects, mainly carried out by NGOs. Such projects are multinational and directly devoted to intercultural dialogue, communication and related multicultural competencies. Their aim is to support cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through different activities (theatre, music events, exhibitions, festivals, etc.)
Selected NGOs have created programmes that relate to integration of migrants and welcoming refugees (e.g.Taste of Home/Okusi doma; Are you Syrious?).
The question of religious communities in Croatia is regulated through the Law on the Legal Position of Religious Communities (NN 83/02, 73/13), and the Ministry of Administration holds the Registry of Religious Communities. According to the online Registry in 2016, there are 52 registered religious communities in Croatia.
The government of the Republic of Croatia takes steps to support all activities that promote dialogue between different faith groups. Sixteen agreements have been signed with 16 churches and religious communities. The international agreement with the Holy See regulates issues with Catholic Church in Croatia, while other agreements were signed with: the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia; the Islamic religious community in Croatia; the Evangelic Church in Croatia; the Reformed Christian (Calvinist) Church in Croatia; the Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Croatia, which additionally represents the Christ Pentecostal Church in Croatia and The Union of Christ Pentecostal Churches in Croatia; the Adventist Church in Croatia, which represents the Reformed movement of the Seventh-day Adventists; the Union of Baptist Churches in Croatia, which represent the Church of Christ; the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Croatia; the Croatian Old Catholic Church; and the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Croatia. In 2003, the Agreement between the government of the Republic of Croatia and the Jewish Community in Croatia was adopted. In autumn 2008, the Agreement was signed with the Beth Israel Jewish faith group, and in 2012 the Agreement was also signed with the Co-ordination of Jewish Communities in the Republic of Croatia. In August 2014 after three years of court proceedings and with the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights the Agreement was also signed with three other churches: the Union of Churches ‘Word of Life’; the Church of the Full Gospel (CCE); and Protestant Reformed Christian Church.
Government’s overall approach to intercultural dialogue