The NTA Model’s Capacity of Including the Rights of Minorities through the Private Sector

STSM title: The NTA Model’s Capacity of Including the Rights of Minorities through the Private Sector
STSM start and end date: 12/06/2023 to 17/06/2023
Grantee name: Nikola Dacev
Host institution: Institute for Social Sciences “Ivo Pillar”
Home institution: International Balkan University

Statement about the STSM:

In general, the STSM was very successful because it helped me to achieve the established basic goal, through the literature and legislation provided and obtained data information through the working meetings with experts in the field of research, but it also broadened my research horizons and made me think in the direction of analyzing other aspects of NTA models in the future. The reception at the institute for Social Sciences “Ivo Pillar” as host institution was excellent. I was given full support in the realization of my STSM and I was enabled to make contacts with other relevant institutions.

STSM purpose:

А large number of ethnic communities living in North Macedonia and Croatia are guaranteed a large number of rights, linguistic, cultural, educational, social, economic, and other. All those rights are realized through the state institutions, but in the past years, there is an attempt to realize them in private organizations as well. The research is grounded on the theoretical and practical dilemmas about the applicability of the Non-Territorial Autonomy (NTA) model to minorities and their possibility to exercise their rights from the bottom up through the private sector. In North Macedonia, the possibility of state subsidization of private companies that will employ people from smaller ethnic communities has already begun to be analyzed. This is a process that will ensure fair representation of minorities in the private sector as well, but is the measure of subsidizing private companies justified? Or the goal can be accomplished with different measures? That is why the purpose of my STSM was to investigate the regulation of this issue in the private sector in Croatia. Many interviews were conducted with experts in the field and relevant literature was studied along with an analysis of relevant legislation in order to achieve the main goal of this project, which is a greater degree of protection of minority rights through the involvement of other stakeholders in society, besides the state.

Description of the work carried out during the STSM:

In the Institute for Social Sciences “Ivo Pillar” in Zagreb I was welcomed by the Director Prof. Dr. Zeljko Holjevac. Briefly, we discussed my ongoing project and the possibilities of researching other aspects of the national minorities in the Republic of Croatia in the future. Dr. Marin Beros, a researcher at the Institute gave me the guidelines for the preparation of all the documents needed for visiting the Institute and he pointed out the experts from my field of research who can help me in conducting the research. Dr. Danijel Vojak, a research associate at the Institute helped me to establish contact with institutions and to organize the working meetings, but also provided me with the necessary books and articles related to the rights of national minorities. He also pointed out to me the corresponding laws that regulate issues for national minorities in Croatia.

Dr. Liljana Dobrovsak, a research advisor at the Institute pointed out that the constitutional laws regulating the rights of minorities are of high quality, that all existing minorities are included in the Constitution, and that those who meet the legal requirements have their representatives in the Parliament. An essential aspect in the realization of the rights of the national minorities is their motivation in all of this. As far as the private sector is concerned, by the Deputy Ombudswoman of Croatia Tatjana Vlasic, I was informed that in 2017 Croatia introduced the Diversity Charter platform set up by the European Commission in 2010 to support the development and exchange of good practices among Member States. Diversity Charter is a voluntary initiative aimed at promoting diversity, anti-discrimination, inclusiveness, and equal opportunities in the workplace.

Mladen Stojanovic, the advisor of the Vice-Ombudswoman emphasized that there are some issues in the implementation of the laws regulating the rights of minorities, mostly related to the Romans and Serbs in employment and the official use of language and writing. Although the legal threshold for a language to become official is 30%, the cultural autonomy of the communities is at a high level, the financing of cultural and artistic entities, the publication of magazines and books in the mother tongue of minorities, the nurturing of traditions and education are at a satisfactory level and no particular problems are noted.

In the Council for National Minorities of Croatia, I met Tibor Varga, Deputy Head of the Department, who explained to me the activities of the Council related to financing cultural events, implementation of bilateral agreements, holding seminars, evaluating the programs of associations of national minorities for cultural autonomy, giving recommendations for the integration of certain minority communities, etc. But, he also indicated that the percentage of citizens from certain minority communities has been falling below the legal threshold in recent years, which leads to them losing certain rights, which refer to their representation in public institutions, although he believes that there should be continuity of rights (a gain right to not be taken away).

Description of the main results obtained:

The STSM provided an opportunity to discuss different aspects of my research and helped me articulate how to frame the following works: In Croatia, if in the public sector, the conditions for employment for a certain job are equal, a person who is a Croatian citizen and a person who is a member of a minority community is always given preference to a person from a minority community.

The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Croatia has published an open call for the program for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in areas inhabited by members of national minorities for the year 2022. The maximum amount of support is about 1300 euros per person, and the intensity of support can reach up to 100% of acceptable costs. Eligible users are micro, small, and medium enterprises that are majority privately owned by persons who are members of a national minority (more than 50%) or employ persons who are members of a national minority.

The employment of persons in a disadvantageous position registered in the register of unemployed persons maintained by the Croatian Institute for Employment includes persons who are members of the Roma national minority. It works in the way that the Institute allocates a monthly lump-sum amount of support regardless of the employer’s actual cost.

All national minorities can organize themselves in associations financed by the Council for National Minorities and through those associations realize their rights, related to their language, culture, tradition, education, projects, employment, etc. The more organized they are, the more they will stand up for their rights. Since there is an initiative in the Republic of North Macedonia for financing companies in the private sector to employ citizens from national minorities, the positive experience of the Republic of Croatia can be used i.e. for granting funds for the employment of national minorities in companies that are not developed or operate in underdeveloped branches or where managers are members of minority communities, but also due to the fact that North Macedonia is in the process of acceding to the European Union should also think about the possibility of integrating the Diversity Charter program in the future. By signing the Charter, organizations declare that they will publicly support, protect and develop diversity in their organization and value chain, as well as create a stimulating working environment for all, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.

Taking into consideration the NTA practices that I have learned from the researchers in the host institution, the Deputy Ombudswoman and Deputy Director of the Council of National Minorities in Croatia, my future activities will continue in the direction of strengthening the cooperation with the above-mentioned institutions in Croatia, broaden the research in different aspects, publishing scientific papers and share the experience with the domestic authorities and experts in the field with the final aim to create an NTA model that will protect the rights of minorities employed in the private sector.