BRIEF REPORT: FIRST
INTERNATIONAL LEADERS SUMMIT
Strategic Focus: Economic Growth - Unleashing Free Market Forces
Nov. 5 and 6, 2004 Zagreb, Croatia
The first International Leaders
Summit (ILS) began on Friday, Nov. 5 with brief remarks from co-founders
Natasha Srdoc-Samy and Joel Anand Samy encouraging leaders of Croatia
to focus on economic growth and unleashing free market forces. The two-day
conference commenced with the opening keynote address delivered by John
Blundell, Director General of Institute of Economic Affairs, titled:
"Waging the War on Ideas." Discussion times and Q & A breaks
during the two day conference were maximized Moderators and Chairmen of ILS
Strategic Panels included Dr. Daniel Mitchell, Senior Fellow, The
Heritage Foundation, USA; Helen Disney, President, Stockholm Network, UK,
Joseph Mohorovic, Former State Legislator, USA; Dr. Alvin Rabushka,
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, USA and John Willman, Deputy
Editor, Financial Times, UK.
Highlights of the ILS:
1. On Thursday, November 4, 2004
on HRT - Croatian Radio Television state owned media
and Croatia's largest television featured ILS Speakers - Dr. Alvin
Rabushka (USA), Dr. Dan Mitchell (USA), Dr. Eamonn Butler (UK) on prime
time "Otvoreno" with Croatia's State Secretary - Dr. Babic
for Economic Strategies (Prime Minister's Office), Nadan Vidosevic
(President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce) and Croatian member of
parliament, Mr. Cehok (HSLS).
ILS Speakers promoted free market economy and
the rule of law with an emphasis on economic growth - unleashing free market
forces. The public debate focused on tax reform, privatization, limited
government and other key topics.
2. Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister of Slovakia, Ivan Miklos shared
experiences in his transitional nation and conveyed evidences of how Slovakia is
benefiting from implementing the "Flat Tax" and unleashing free market forces in
their nation during the keynote lunch address.
- During the ILS Strategic
Session, Deputy Prime Minister Miklos encouraged panelist - Croatia's Finance
Minister Suker to embrace free market ideas and to adopt the "Flat Tax" that
will benefit Croatian individuals.
- Significant media exposure
through broadcast and print media during Miklos' visit affirmed the importance
of free market initiatives that directly impact former communist nations.
Evidences and experiences of other former communist states and how they have
benefited over the years by implementing reforms received great attention in
3. Croatia's Prime
Minister, Dr. Ivo Sanader; Foreign Minister Dr. Miomir Zuzul;
Finance Minister Suker and State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Mr.
Vrankovic stated their plans for Croatia. Minister Suker and Assistant
Minister Vrankovic were seated on ILS Strategic Panels and were able to
hear about the major changes taking place in former communist nations that
embraced free market ideas.
4. Dr. Rabushka,
Senior Fellow at Hoover Institution and known as the "Father of Flat Tax"
clearly explained the successful initiative that has been implemented in
nations of Eastern Europe. Dr. Rabushka chaired the ILS Strategic Session: "The
Role of Tax Policy in Influencing Economic Growth". The Flat Tax was well
received by leaders in business and the media.
5. Dr. Daniel Mitchell
Senior Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, clearly articulated the significance of
limited government, lowering taxes, and relayed examples of what is working in
nations experiencing economic growth. He advocated the importance of tax
competition among nations, the rule of law and through one of the ILS Strategic
Sessions unveiled the "2004 Index of Economic Freedom",
published by The Heritage Foundation/Wall
Dr. Mitchell also delivered an
inspiring keynote address on the "Legacy of Ronald Reagan" and the significance
of values, character and leadership. He also stressed the urgency for Croatia
to implement reforms in the areas of taxation, to move away from the welfare
state mentality and raised concerns regarding the EU regulations that will hurt
individual Croatians on the long run.
6. Dr. Butler,
President of Adam Smith Institute (UK) delivered a keynote address and
articulated the fundamentals of the "Rule of Law." Dr. Butler's message was
concise and impactful as Croatia's struggles to deal with over 1.5 million court
cases back-logged in the system (Croatia's population: 4.4 million).
7. Dr. Jan Oravec,
President of the F. A. Hayek Foundation (Slovakia), stated the experiences of
Slovak's leadership boldly implementing economic reforms that transformed the
nation and has created the "Tiger of Europe." Dr. Oravec stated
Slovakia's benefits in implementing the "Flat Tax" and reducing bureaucracy and
limiting government. He challenged Minister ?uker on the ILS Strategic Panel to
seriously consider free market ideas to bring changes to Croatia.
- Joseph Mohorovic,
former state representative of New Mexico, USA and now serving in Washington,
DC, provided examples of how legislators and political leaders benefit from
free market think tanks. Mohorovic shared the examples of how state/regional
governments can benefit from free market economy.
- Martin Chren,
Director of F.A. Hayek Foundation, addressed the ILS Session on Labor Law
Reform since Croatia's rigid laws and high employee tax burden (100%
contributions from salary: $100 dollars wage for person + $100 taxes).
- Croatian born business leaders
Matt Sertic (President of Applied Ceramics, USA) and
Antun Duzevic (Bermuda) communicated the need for a favorable
economic environment prior to attracting investors who will most likely will
reject the notion of doing business in Croatia today.
- Goran Gazivoda,
Deputy CEO of HVB Splitska banka brought up for discussion and review the
condensed version of the 55 recommendations prepared by the National
Competitiveness Board founded by the Croatian business and political
community. The objectives of these recommendations is to improve Croatia's
competitiveness. The ILS speakers and Adriatic Institute's Board of Advisors
recognized the vagueness of the recommendations and no clear plan of action
stemming from National Competitiveness Board.
8. The first ILS gathered over 80
leaders from business, government, academia and experts and more than a 12
journalists from major media around Croatia covered the ILS.
During the two-day conference,
over 30 students from the University of Zagreb and the University of Rijeka
volunteered at the Summit and were introduced to free market ideas.
9. John Willman
(Financial Times), Helen Disney (The Stockholm Network) and
Udo Prenzel (DW-TV), panelists on the ILS Strategic Session of Free
Media - Economic Reporting stressed the importance of free media, greater
transparency in the government arena, proper legal framework so that journalists
can report accurately and clearly without the fear of imprisonment and
retribution. Free Media has been a major issue since Croatia slipped in the
Corruption Perceived Index through Transparency International's report and also
the journalists' report.
10. ILS Speakers and
Advisory Board Members of the Adriatic Institute, Dr. Rabushka, Dr. Mitchell and
John Blundell spoke to university students, academia and a few business
leaders at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management on November 8, 2004.
11. The concluding remarks at
the Summit delivered by Natasha Srdoc-Samy, President of
Croatia's first independent free market think tank affirmed the great need for
free market ideas in Croatia that will benefit individuals and empower them to
advance positive changes in the former communist state. Natasha Srdoc
Samy and Joel Anand Samy adjourned the first International Leaders
Summit and announced next year's Summit - June 2005 in Croatia.
12. The organizers and board of
advisors attending the ILS unveiled a detailed report on Friday, December 3,
2004 and presented to the media and leaders of business and government the
"ILS - Seven Strategic Recommendations for Economic Growth to Croatia's
The ILS was covered by major
Croatian broadcast and print media.
Most importantly, the organizers
of the ILS express their deep gratitude to speakers,
partners, supporters and volunteers that came together in Zagreb
thus voluntarily contributing their time, abilities, knowledge and resources to
advance free market economy and the rule of law in Croatia!