Eleven years ago, encouraged and persuaded to do it by several colleagues, associates and friends, I wrote a book titled Croatia 2020. They convinced me that I was obliged to write it for us and for all our children. At first, I struggled with the idea, then I reconciled and surrendered, and finally fell in love with it. Although it was a demanding text that requires years of research and is usually prepared by entire teams, I made it myself and spent only three months on it. Or, more precisely, thirty years. Namely, a good part of my life, without being aware of it, I was preparing for this book. Everything I learned, did, experienced or fantasized was amorphous and unrecognizable, and then, as of a miracle, took shape on the computer keyboard with strange ease. When I started writing, I envisioned a systematic strategy, based on mission, vision, goals, actions, and concrete projects. As if the state is an enterprise, rational, organized and easily manageable. The deeper I was involved in the problem, the clearer it became that, as with any vision, it was actually about shaping a dream, woven of imagination and ambition, of reality and fiction, of science and madness. Now, after ten years, it’s time for a new dream, especially because the old one didn’t quite come true.
What are the foundations of Croatia 2030? Why do we need such vision? The aphorism says that you must have a dream, if you want it to come true. Most young people have a dream, but later leave its (non)realization to fate. The minority belongs to visionaries who will not give up until they turn their dream into reality. They believe that destiny should not be accepted but should be taken into their own hands. In order for a vision to come true, one needs to try, explore, change, and fight. Nothing will happen by itself, so let’s dream, take action and plan!
Imagine you are sitting in a time machine on your way to Croatia in the future. The year is 2030, and a successful marketing campaign, presenting the country as a pioneer of biodigital tourism, has made us the most interesting destination for researchers of a new lifestyle based on health, organic food, olive oil, fitness, and hotels-sanatoriums. During the last ten years, cascade retentions were built on the river Sava near Zagreb. With four dams and hydroelectric power plants stretching from Bregana to Prečko, the river is fully regulated, providing electricity for public lighting, four recreational lakes and a safe construction zone along its banks with the most beautiful view and rich museum and playground infrastructure for children. Zagreb's Upper Town has become a depoliticized tourist zone with cozy restaurants, nightclubs and tourist facilities. A ll the government institutions have been moved to the renovated space of the former university hospital in Lanište. Dubrovnik has become the political and educational center of Southeast Europe, a home of a strong international university and several regional centers of the EU, UN and NATO for ecology, human rights, diplomacy and military strategy. Hrvatsko Zagorje has opened a mountain road for bicycles, horses and carriages by which many European tourists travel from castle to castle, in the footsteps of the Middle Ages. The castles have been converted into hotels and amusement parks, organizing education, congress tourism and health services for visitors. Former military facilities and resorts along the Adriatic have become the campuses of the world's leading universities. The educational programs are combined with international sports games from sailing and water polo to fencing and golf. In cooperation with German investors, an amusement park "In the Footsteps of Winetou" was opened on the Lika plateau, offering mountain air tourism, Lika food, rafting and nature exploration. Croatia has successfully implemented the Islands of Knowledge project, which included Veliki Brijun (European Center for Nobel Laureates), Prvić (World Entrepreneurship Academy), Koločep (Center for Genetic Engineering) and Susak (International Ethnological Institute).
It is as easy as that! Let us imagine the kind of country we want to have, and then let's get organized and take action to make that dream come true! Let’s not wait for our problems to be solved by the European Union, the United Nations, by multinational companies, or with a help of world market trends! Without a courageous and encouraging vision, it will be difficult to avoid a future that brings strikes, street riots and social revolt of the dissatisfied population. Our culture, political and economic environment suffer from modest goals and lack of vision. Croatia lacks self-awareness, courage, and readiness to initiate challenging projects. We also need a winning spirit with which global success would be possible. One of the main tasks of Croatia 2030 is to change such an attitude about the future. Without a vision, the country condemns itself to survival and long-term failure.
We need ambition, and the desire to do something great. Successful people and nations are not satisfied with small goals, insignificant ventures, average results, small projects, and insignificant effects. They have bold visions that raise high expectations. Figuratively speaking, they shoot above the target to hit it safely. The analysis of countries that have managed to significantly accelerate their development with a visionary approach and bold reforms, points at several common characteristics. First, vision and strategy alone are not enough to succeed and create global competitiveness. The whole strategic process is important, which includes a change in values, proactive behavior and ambition. Nations must be able to change their traditional and often backward views, update the existing visions and implement innovative strategies that build on the existing competitive advantages, and at the same time, create new, bold ones.
Do you think it is just an impossible dream? If Ireland, Singapore and Dubai could have done it, why not us? First of all, we have to make our resources open to world capital that cries out for smart and profitable projects. Also, we must provide an entrepreneurial climate and create the conditions for public-private partnerships and investments to drive our attractive resources. According to Mark Twain, a man with a new idea is a madman until that idea succeeds. If we believe in such a vision, even if it seems like a utopia, it can be realized. With a lot of effort and a touch of luck, in ten years we will get the Croatia we want to leave to our children.