Representatives of the Drug Policy Network in South East Europe (DPNSEE) visited Croatia from 22 to 24 March 2017. This activity is part of a series of country visits within the framework of the project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public Health and human rights oriented Drug Policy in South East Europe” as described within the work plan for 2017 and it was undertaken by NGO “Diogenis Drug Policy Dialogue” – the lead organization of the project – in close cooperation with DPNSEE. The delegation – consisting of Nebojša Đurasović, Deputy Treasurer and DPNSEE Board member, Milutin Milošević, DPNSEE Executive director and Sofia Galinaki, Diogenis Advocacy Officer – visited local authorities, institutions and NGOs working in the field of drugs based in the capital Zagreb and the cities of Split and Rijeka.
The visit was part of the efforts for the enlargement of the Network as an essential prerequisite for making it a strong and reliable partner. The main aims of the visit were to: (a) present DPNSEE to the Croatian society, (b) build strong relationships, enhance contacts and improve drug policy dialogue with the relevant authorities, state institutions, policy makers and NGOs, (c) explore opportunities for partnerships and collaboration and (d) discuss possible applications of local civil society organizations for membership in DPNSEE. More specifically, the delegation came in contact, discussed and exchange important information and experiences with: representatives from the Office for Combating Drugs Abuse of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Ranko Ostojić – recent vice Prime minister and Minister of Interior, currently Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Domestic Policy and National Security, representatives from the NGOs ‘LET’ – based in Zagreb, ‘HELP’ – based in Split, ‘TERRA’, ‘VIDA’, and ‘OASA’ – based in Rijeka and representatives from the Educational Institute for Public Health of the Split – Dalmatia county.
The most important observation the delegation gained was that the governmental institutions operate in a very effective way, using an interdisciplinary approach. There is a well-organized and structured system in place, which covers the entire range of needs related to drug use. The system is decentralised, so that each of the 21 counties (županije) has its own tasks and responsibilities. Further on, local authorities and institutions take their own part and that is usually very well coordinated at county level. Moreover, the strong and ongoing cooperation between the competent state agencies and local Civil Society organizations significantly contributes in the overall implementation of the Croatian drug policy in a consistent way.
More detailed information regarding the: programme and preparation of the visit, structure of the Croatian drug policy system, important projects implemented within the 10-year Croatian Drug Strategy (2007-2017), harm reduction field, drug law reform, role of civil society in the implementation of drug policy, areas of improvement and the potential of future cooperation can be found in the full report available on request from the DPNSEE Office.