Croatian minority in Republic of Kosovo
The Croatian national minority in Kosovo is scarce, and as years go by its situation is becoming more difficult. Although the Croat minority in Kosovo is very old (The parish of St. Nicholas in Janjevo is over 700 years old), one must keep in mind that the overall Croat population in Kosovo is only 0,017%. The actual number of Croats in the localities of Janjevo and Letnica can be determined based on the fact that this is mainly a population practicing Catholic faith and following the practice of home blessing in the aftermath of New Year holiday festivities. In Janjevo alone there are 300 Croats, while in Letnica 50 (the last census was conducted in 1991, which resulted in 8.800 persons declaring themselves Croats ). The status of Croats in Kosovo should be assessed less as an ethnic minority issue, but rather as a humanitarian issue. Several persons of Croatian nationality reside in towns, but they are the exception. There is also an association of Croatian women, although its meetings are held irregularly.
In Janjevo the situation is slightly better due to the presence of the younger generation and the activities of the Croatian local priest, Matej Palić. There are also two nuns maintaining the kitchen work for the elderly. Whatever happens in in Janjevo turns around the Parish office. Janjevo alone gave twenty priests and the same number of nuns; yet, most of them are scattered in the Republic of Croatia and around the world. The biggest problem facing the Janjevo and Letnica people is unemployment, and those Croats who remain in Kosovo are mostly those who have nobody in Croatia willing to adopt them.
Kosovo Croats are neither recognized as a minority nor are they mentioned in the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo. Great expectations are being placed on the Croatian Embassy in Pristina, especially in terms of financial assistance and employment. High Albanian officials reiterate that the remaining Croats in Kosovo should stay in Kosovo (Bishop Dode Gjergji). At this stage however, some language or other minority rights issues are difficult to assess. For instance, the school in Janjevo provides classes for its students within the framework of the Serbian curriculum.
The State Office for Croats Abroad coordinates the distribution of financial help provided by the state budget, i.e. in the amount of HRK 1,500,000.00 in order to assist national minorities abroad. In the preceding years the amount of € 5,000.00 was set aside for the Kosovo Croats. In 2008, the Croatian Government released out of its budgetary reserve € 10,000.00 for the purchase of fuel, oil as well as the maintenance of public kitchens for the elderly Croats in Janjevo.