What is CAA and what do we do?
The Croatian American Association (CAA) is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization representing Croatian Americans.
The CAA works daily with Congress, the State Department, the Administration, media and think-tanks to enhance the understanding of the United States government and society in matters relating to Croatians in general and to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular.
WHO WE ARE
Croatian Americans for
Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina
CAA promotes the interests of Croatian-Americans, strengthens the US – Croatia and the US – Bosnia and Herzegovina relations, and enhances the security and democracy of the United States, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. CAA believes EU and NATO membership for Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the vital national interests both of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Republic of Croatia. Our policy positions are all prepared with that ultimate goal in mind.
Congress and the Administration to support democratic developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to ensure that Croats enjoy the same rights and protections as the other two constituent nations, as enshrined in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitution.
the American public and decision makers on the need to support democratic development in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to: enhance the rule of law, protect the Constitution, ensure political equality of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, protect national minorities, support Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integrations, curb corruption, combat terrorism and malign foreign influence, and support a prosperous and politically sustainable Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the principles of democracy, federalism, and parity.
the political involvement of the entire Croatian American community on these issues.
…journalists, columnists, commentators and think tanks with factual, timely information regarding issues in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
MEET OUR TEAM
Who is involved
in the work of CAA?
We encourage every Croatian American to get involved with the CAA and to work with us in promoting our goals. CAA has a board of directors and an Executive Director who coordinate CAA’s efforts.
What has CAA done so far?
In cooperation with the IDPI think-tank (Institute for Social and Political Research) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Grbavac drafted and developed an Election Law Reform Proposal package which would both implement the Constitutional Court of BiH “Ljubic” ruling and the European Court for Human Rights rulings in cases “Sejdic-Finci,” “Zornic” and “Pilav.” This reform would ensure that Croats can elect their own legitimate political representatives at all levels and enjoy equal political rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina as constituent nations, as well as end the discrimination against national minorities and bring Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to the EU. The proposal was developed over a course of several months, using feedback from key decision-makers in the US, the EU and BiH. The proposal was presented to the State Department, relevant members of Congress and think-tanks as a way to solve the current constitutional crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Proposal was included in official materials for Congressional hearing on “The Dayton Legacy and the Future of Bosnia and the Western Balkans” held on April 18, 2018. CAA is in ongoing conversations with all these institutions about this issue, and the Proposal can be found at THIS LINK.
Through meetings with Congressman Rohrabacher and his staff, CAA initiated the Congressional hearing on “The Dayton Legacy and the Future of Bosnia and the Western Balkans” held on April 18, 2018, the first hearing focusing on the political issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina in years. Before the hearing, CAA developed briefing materials and briefed Congressional Research Service, HFAC staff, all 14 members of the HFAC Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats and their staff, chair and ranking member of the HFAC and other key Congressman who are connected to BiH such as Mike Turner, Chris Smith and Scott Perry. After the hearing, CAA issued press releases and coordinated follow-up messages from key Members of Congress to the local media in BiH.
Briefed key Members of Congress and helped secure two letters from Members of Congress to the Secretary of State and to the Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Attended over one hundred meetings on the Hill with Representatives, Senators and other key decision-makers. Briefed them on the current political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Engaged with and briefed the members of the Helsinki Committee before their work trip to BiH.
Engaged continuously, and on numerous occasions briefed, the State Department and the USAID staff in charge of Bosnia and Herzegovina desk and South-Central Europe Bureau. These included conversations at the deputy assistant secretary level, BiH desk level, as well as many work meetings with the Senior Advisor for BiH Constitutional Reform Issues.
Engaged with and briefed think-tank members and academics from The Heritage Foundation, The Center for European Policy Analysis, the Atlantic Council and John Hopkins SAIS. Attended multiple events relating to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Atlantic Council, John Hopkins SAIS, United States Institute for Peace and on the Hill. Organized a presentation on the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Encouraged members of the media, including the journalists from the Foreign Policy, Congressional Quarterly, The Guardian, Cipher Brief, and local publications in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to write about the current political situation in BiH and gave them contacts of people from BiH who would be useful to interview. Mr. Grbavac also gave interviews and was quoted in an article in Foreign Policy and in Kosovo 2.0 on the election law reform process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, constitutional issues and foreign influence. Mr. Grbavac co-wrote an article in a special issue of Vecernji List explaining the constitutional issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the current political problems facing Croats in BiH.
Sent multiple letters to the Secretary of State, State Department, HFAC and SFRC members, and other key representatives on the Hill concerning the election of Zeljko Komsic as the Croat Member of the Presidency, the implementation of the “Ljubic” ruling of the Constitutional court of BiH and the election reform, the confirmation of the new US ambassador to BiH, and the threat to Croat journalists in BiH.
Researched constitutional, electoral, political, security, economic and other relevant issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and wrote dozens of policy papers, position papers, memos, press releases, and fact sheets.
Established a network of contacts on the Hill, in the State Department and other relevant government organizations, in the Administration, in media, in think-tanks, in foreign embassies, and with other non-profits and organizations dealing with BiH.
Why does all of this matter?
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Croats are facing an uphill battle for political survival. In recent years, the country’s election laws and the Constitution of BiH’s Federation entity have been altered so as to allow non-Croats to vote in elections for Croat representatives in BiH. This has resulted in reduced representation of Croats in BiH and, effectively, a diminishment of their role in the future governance of the country. This situation has introduced destabilizing gridlock in the Federation Entity’s legislative bodies and has ushered in an era of constant crisis politics, which has lowered that standard of living for all of BiH’s citizens while accelerating one of the most serious demographic declines in Europe today. Of the three constituent peoples, Croats have seen the most catastrophic rate of population decrease, which suggests that they have been disproportionately affected by the political crisis in Sarajevo and the discontent and hopelessness that it breeds.
Success in returning BiH to a stable footing will depend on the ability of a broad coalition of stakeholders to engage with key US decision-makers. No other foreign power in the world can exercise as much influence to help BiH as the US. As the creator and guarantor of the Washington Agreement and the Dayton Peace Agreement, the US is in a unique position to promote reforms, facilitate negotiations and re-establish the equality of the three constituent peoples in BiH. Congress and the presidential administration understand that the only way to ensure peace and prosperity is through an unflinching commitment to the rule of law, constitutional governance, and genuine democratic values. This will necessarily require the introduction of a law that will guarantee Croats the right to elect their own political representatives and, with it, their equality with the other two constituent peoples of BiH. Now more than ever, it is critical to fight for the delicate power-sharing arrangement enshrined in the Dayton Agreement that preserves the right of each of the three constituent nations to elect their own legitimate representatives and to share power equally.