President Milanović Tells Croatian Community in Brazil: Croatia is open to you, but it is up to you to decide

06. June 2024.

“There is no need to persuade you to return to Croatia, but the country is always open to you. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be in Croatia or whether you want to stay here. The decision is ultimately entirely personal. What I want you to know is that whenever I have the opportunity, I will tell people about these meetings with Croatian emigrants,” President Zoran Milanović told members of the Croatian community in Brazil, whom he met in São Paulo on Wednesday evening.

In his speech, President Milanović reminisced about his meetings with Croatian emigrants around the world, noting that these encounters are always filled with strong emotions and memories of the homeland. “When I look at you, it’s as if I’m looking at the souls of ancestors – people who lived in Croatia, left Croatia, and have always remained somehow connected to Croatia. This emotional connection is incredible, as if I am seeing Croatia through you: Brač, Korčula, Zagreb, Jastrebarsko, Slavonia, Dalmatia of the old days, all of Croatia,” said the President.

“One of the beautiful and most wonderful experiences I’ve had as a politician – though not all were beautiful – was meeting the descendants of Croats around the world,” added President Milanović. He explained that he views these meetings more as personal satisfaction than as work. “May God protect you, but take care of yourselves and each other. I believe that every now and then you think of Croatia and know that it thinks of you too,” he said to the emigrants and their descendants, over a hundred of whom had gathered.

With a meeting with members of the Croatian community in São Paulo, President Milanović concluded his official visit to Brazil, becoming the first Croatian President to visit the largest country in South America. Prior to this, he also met with representatives of the Croatian-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, an association founded last year to promote cooperation between the two countries.

The Chamber was established by a group of experts, predominantly of Croatian descent and deeply connected to the community, boasting diverse knowledge and experience across various fields. As they conveyed during the meeting with President Milanović, their aim is to foster the growth of trade relations, investment opportunities, and cultural, academic, and technological exchange between Croatia and Brazil.

According to official sources, approximately 80,000 Croats and their descendants reside in Brazil. Only a minority of Croatian emigrants in Brazil are fluent in the Croatian language, partly due to the absence of new immigrants to Brazil in the past half-century. Croatian associations are scarce in Brazil, with the two most significant ones based in São Paulo: Croatia Sacra Paulistana (SACRA) and Sociedade Amigos da Dalmácia (Friends of Dalmatia Society – SADA).

PHOTO: Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia / Tomislav Bušljeta