Croatian president’s statement that the freedom of movement, one of the four basic principles of the European Union, is simultaneously an advantage and a drawback, is unusual, an unnamed source from the government told Croatian news agency Hina on Wednesday.
During her official visit to Brussels, president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic held a lecture on Croatia’s experiences as a member of the European Union at the European Policy Centre, during which she said that mobility within the EU had its good and bad sides.
"Mobility is good, as long as people come back. But Croatia is now recording strong negative demographic trends," she said, adding that the people leaving Croatia are those in whose education the state invested.
She said that, according to estimates, between 320 and 380 thousand people left Croatia in the last five years, and that the country now had a population of less than 4 million.
A source from the government who requested to stay anonymous told Hina that it was “unusual that the Croatian president would say something like that, and especially during a visit to Brussels,” adding that the freedom of movement, along with goods, capital and services, was one of the four basic freedoms in the EU.
“Other new EU members in the first years after joining the Union experienced similar trends in the dynamics of movement. We expect that in the 21st century the mobility of our citizens within the EU would be a two way process and that many, after working or studying in other countries, would choose to come back to Croatia,” the source said.
They added that the government was working on creating the conditions to make that happen.
“We can say that the EU, as a whole, has profited from Croatia’s membership, but Croatia still has not,” the president said in Brussels, and added that she had presented a set of demographic measures to combat the population drain and create conditions in Croatia that would match the countries that people emigrate to.