The Importance of “Being Croat” – Mistakes Candidates for Croatian Citizenship Should Avoid
Citizenship can be acquired by being born in Croatia, by marrying a Croatian citizen, by naturalization, and by belonging to the Croatian nation. For many citizens of Serbia, the most interesting thing is how to acquire Croatian citizenship due to belonging to the Croatian people.
There is no second chance to make a first impression
The procedure for acquiring citizenship begins at the consulate in the country where a foreigner who considers himself a Croat lives. At the meeting with the official at the consulate, the candidate for citizenship must prove that he is a Croat.
This is done in a way that the candidate clearly declares that he or she is a Croat, and that he or she submits written evidence of this. It is precisely with written evidence that the most problems arise in practice.
Candidates for acquiring citizenship often make a mistake and come unprepared to meetings at the consulate and make a statement that cannot be changed later.
Therefore, it is extremely important to consult with a lawyer and prepare for questions in such a way as to give concrete and unequivocal answers that indicate belonging to the Croatian people. Once a mistake is made in the interview, it means the impossibility of correcting that mistake later.
Are blood cells counted in Croatia?
The reason for all the problems lies in a fundamentally different understanding of the importance of belonging to the people than it is the case in other countries. In Croatia, it is extremely important what ethnicity one belongs to, because minority rights are activated based on the number of members of a certain ethnicity in each municipality or city.
This includes the use of the language and script of the ethnical minority, as well as having special representatives and deputy mayors. In court, a person who belongs to a minority in a municipality where the minority language and script are in use may speak in that language on all occasions. At the level of the constitutional law, there is a whole list of powers that minorities have. One of them is an advantage in employment whenever a candidate who is a member of a minority ethnicity has the same conditions as a candidate who is a Croat, when it comes to judicial bodies and state administration.
The best example of this is that in Istria Italian is used as an almost official language, as well as the fact that in the City of Zagreb, which is a special territorial unit of local and regional self-government, there are representatives of Jewish, Turkish, Austrian, Bulgarian, Polish, Ruthenian, Russian, Slovak, Italian, Ukrainian minorities, with special powers and budgets.
It is similar in other cities, as well as in areas where members of Serbian, Czech, Slovak and other minorities predominantly live.
In national elections, members of minorities have the right to elect representatives to parliament from so-called minority lists, because their seats are guaranteed regardless of the number of votes the candidates receive. In order to be able to vote for the minority list, it is necessary to be registered in the voter list as a member of the minority.
This is not a blood cell count because everyone can express themselves as they wish, but they must remain consistent.
Every opportunity should be used to declare yourself a Croat
Belonging to the people is a category that is examined when enrolling in school and college. In the student index, there is a section on ethnicity. This is not the case in other countries, or it is information that is used only for statistical purposes, but is not publicly visible to anyone who gets a hold of the student’s index.
Due to the extremely large number of situations in which Croatian citizens are required to declare their ethnical affiliation, written documents are required from candidates for Croatian citizenship, which will show that in legal transactions – that is, for official purposes – they declared themselves as a Croat.
The experience that Croatian officials have from their own experience necessarily imposes criteria for judging whether someone is a member of the Croatian ethnicity or not. The most important aspect for them is how the person declared himself in the registers and other documents. The fact that in other countries questions about ethnicity are not asked as often as in Croatia, actually presents a problem for the candidate for Croatian citizenship because he or she has little evidence of their ethnicity.
One does not go without the other: Croat and Roman Catholic
In addition to written documents such as a certificate from the birth register with clearly stated information on Croatian ethnicity, it is necessary to attach other evidence.
These are certificates of membership in Croatian cultural societies, communities, clubs, participation in activities related to Croatian Catholic missions and the like.
Belonging to the Catholic Church is not a requirement, but in the case of a different religious affiliation or atheism, it is necessary to be aware of the fact that the majority of Croats are of the Roman Catholic faith, while a small number are Protestants and members of other confessions.
It is not the same to prove that someone is Croat if his/her ancestors settled in Argentina a hundred years ago after the outbreak of grapevine disease in Dalmatia, or if he/she came from a mixed marriage to live in Belgrade with one of their parents after the outbreak of war in the 90s.
PS. That is why, before starting the procedure for obtaining Croatian citizenship, it is necessary to consider hiring an appropriate legal expert and get information about how ethnicity is understood in Croatia in the specific case.
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