This paper explores the challenges for sustainable return and reintegration of Serbian refugees in Croatia. The main research results are as follows.
1. The previous research conducted by Zagreb University clearly shows that returnees more often stay permanently in smaller rural settlements. However, such areas have a limited chance to sustain the Serbian community. Because most part of them lacks the organized life conditions and the great majority of returnees are elderly persons.
2. In urban area remains the possibility to sustain their community if returnees succeed in putting their lives back in order. To do this, it is necessary to solve the housing problem and the employment problem. However, the latter is the most difficult question in the regions where most of the returnees live. Because, in addition to severe scarcity of job opportunities, there is invisible employment discrimination based on ethnicity against the Serbs.
3. Our research found a factor which alleviates their difficulty. That is political influence. In the region where the political representatives of returnees have certain degree of political influence there are relatively enlarged employment opportunities for them. More concretely, it depends on the power or influences the Independent Democratic Serbian Party exerts in the region.
4. The degree of reintegration of the Serb returnees into the Croatian society is different from person to person. There are indeed some people who seem to have been fully integrated in the society. However, facing the difficulties in realizing civic rights in various spheres, most of returnees feel alienated from the Croatian society rather than integrate.
5. In order to improve the situation, at first, this country needs to expand overall employment opportunities, achieving sustained economic growth. Second, a change in employment practices is indispensable. The decision to hire should be made exclusively by evaluating the professional competence and qualifications, not by the result of consideration into political connection and ethnic affiliation. To do this, two things must be introduced. One is the objective selection method. Another is proper legislative control which secures transparency and fairness in the screening process. Probably such a change may be long coming. But it would be the unavoidable challenge for this country when it would like to be the state that has the institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, respect for and protection of minorities, as membership of the European Union requires.