TUE, 07 AUG 2001 00:49:10 GMT
Young Croats Want Abroad
AIM Zagreb, July 29, 2001
The Zagreb weekly Globus recently published the results of a study on
the attitudes of young people regarding the future of Croatia. The
findings are overwhelming: as many as 67,7 per cent of the young would
be willing to emigrate from the country if they had a chance! The
explanation for the phenomenon is rather simple and is to be found in
the results of the study. As many as 81 per cent of the young (600
subjects aged 17 to 25 were surveyed) believe that their future in
Croatia is highly uncertain or define it as chiefly uncertain which is
almost the exact same. For over 500 days of its rule, the new government
has failed to do away with the
prevailingly defeatist disposition of the public and that may turn out
to be its greatest failure. The fact that young people are apathetic to
such a degree reflects a widespread conviction shared by both the young
and the old in this country - that things won’t get better in Croatia
for a long, long time. The 366,000 of the unemployed prove the
pessimists to be in the right. So do many other indicators of
The survey included high-school graduates, college students and workers.
A deeply pessimistic frame of mind prevails among all. They do not
believe that they have a chance of realizing their professional
ambitions, doubt material success is open to them and, most importantly,
do not believe these goals can be achieved by honest means. Defeatism is
amorality. Twenty-three per cent of subjects polled regard prostitution
as an acceptable form of behavior, 33,2 per cent would be prepared to
kill another person if their life was threatened. In short, 44 per cent
of the interviewees answered in the negative when asked if it pays to be
honest these days, 26,2 per cent were undecided, while merely 29,2
"Young people today are pessimistic on the social level and optimistic
on the personal level, an attitude which is only seemingly
contradictory," is the comment of dr. Drazen Lalic, a sociologist. " In
other words, they have little confidence concerning the future of the
country as whole, but believe
they themselves might make it - by going abroad, practicing deviant
individualism, ignoring politics and social activism or by some other
form of escapism." As can be imagined, the said set of values was
generated by politics. In the past ten years, the political elite in
Croatia promoted precisely the sort of values adopted by the young
today: acquisition of
riches without work, offences without sanctions, the lack of elementary
morality, speculation instead of professionalism, negative selection,
party-nepotism - forms of "Tudjmanism" that will dominate the Croat
society for a long while yet.
Interestingly enough - with the exception of athletes living abroad -
the public in Croatia had few chances to learn of rich people who have
acquired their wealth in an honest manner! Instances of people enjoying
the fruits of honest labor were practically non-existent in the public.
What is more, Croat émigrés who have become rich elsewhere and at some
point come back to the old country, in many cases had trouble adjusting.
After a short period of time, many packed their bags and returned where
they had come from. The result of all this is the odium surrounding
politics. Many - quite correctly - view it as a source of all evils.
Asked about the interest they personally have in politics, 33,5 per cent
of the young said they were not interested at all. Thirty-seven per cent
admitted to but a slight interest, while only 20,2 stated they were
interested "to a certain extent". In short, political engagement is not
viewed as a desirable and normal form of social behavior but, rather, to
use Marxist terminology, as a sphere dominated by alienated powers,
corrupt through and through and reserved for a minority deprived of any
decency to start with.
As many as 45,2 per cent of the young do not consider Croatia a
democratic country. Thirty per cent believe it to be generally
democratic, 15 per cent deem it to be entirely undemocratic! " To their
minds, democracy is the equivalent of prosperity and a high standard of
living. Croatia has to face
the fact that the era of social homogenization under the banner of the
hypertrophied patriotism of the nineties has irretrievably gone by. The
young of today want quick and concrete solutions to their problems.
There are unlikely to accept the suggestion to be patient, if for no
than because they can see what their parents’ lives have turned into: an
incessant anticipation... of a job, conclusion of a legal proceeding,
long-overdue salary, confiscation order...At the same time, they are
witnesses of political privileges in action, bogus merits in the
creation of the free motherland and all sorts of violations of the law.
Unfortunately, the high standard of living of the very rich has little
or nothing to do with honoring social decorum. On the contrary,
education, expertise, hard work and devotion have little to do with it,"
says dr. Lalic.
Such convictions - obviously not entirely novel - have resulted in the
massive exodus of young Croats from their country of birth. According to
the most recent data (the precise results will be known when the results
of the latest census are made public) between 90 and 140 thousand young
people have left the country in the past decade. A study conducted by
dr. Alice Wertheimer-Baletic has come up with an even more disturbing
figure of 120,000 young people who have left the country during the
period. Naturally, the first to leave were the most agile, best educated
and most entrepreneurial. For only those who are sure of themselves have
the courage to pack their bags and embark on such a journey.
The study carried in Globus also indicates deep religious feelings among
the young in Croatia. Sixty-eight per cent declared themselves
religious, while 78 per cent of the interviewed stated they attended
church services on an
occasional or regular basis.
Unfortunately, the number of young people leaving Croatia is on the
rise. According to Globus, an accelerated, summer course of Norwegian
for 900 Croat young doctors who have been offered posts by the Norwegian
government is presently under way in Zagreb . Germany seems to be
forever on the lookout for young computer experts, nurses and other
unlikely to find employment in present day Croatia. Even if they are
lucky enough to get a job, miserable salaries, poor working conditions
and little chance for professional advancement are all they can hope for
in their own country. According to the survey, security is the prime
motive for over 91 per cent of young Croats when accepting a job, 83 per
cent are guided by the amount of the salary, but over a half are,
nevertheless, prepared to accept a position not corresponding to their
qualifications if the pay is high enough. Who could blame them for that?
For, in Croatia, most professionals are not paid accordingly.
That is why a mere 6,5 per cent of the subjects interviewed answered
that they had faith in the future " prosperity and progress " of
Croatia. The values reflected in the study mirror a deep-seated distrust
in government. When asked what they would do if the country came to be
involved into a war once again, 37,5 of the interviewees said they were
not sure they were willing to give their lives for their homeland. In
Norway, the percentage would have turned out to be much higher. " A
nation with such a youth ", Tito used to say, " has no reason to fear
for its future." The young generation he was referring is justified in
fearing the future. If what
history has taught us to up to know is correct.