2nd Appeal Letter (in Response to Dr. Ante Golem)

Dear Sir, Madam and His or Her Excellencies;

With all earnestness, I hope that you had a relaxing weekend and that we can continue with resolving the issue of being able to do our internship or staž in Croatia. I have taken the time to review the few collective emails written by and to Dr. Max Gassend and other persons of interest and would like to present to You with the right to do our internship in Croatia.

So far, the problem has been the need for Croatian citizenship in order to take the state licensing examination or državni ispit, which is required to be licensed as a medical doctor at the end of the internship program. Dr. Davor Ježek has revealed a new bylaw, which I understand will take effect once Croatia is a member of the European Union (EU). As of today, this bylaw is irrelevant to any of the University of Zagreb foreign graduates, since Croatia is not a member of the EU. In any event, whenever this bylaw will be accepted, it will be applicable only to EU nationals and the discrimination of non-EU graduates will continue.

Since the bylaw is only effective when Croatia becomes a member of the EU, we will be presenting the ordinances published in 1994 (with revisions in 1996) and some other laws pertaining to foreigners from the Ministry of Interior. I believe we are able to convince You to give us positions as medical doctors in Croatia and provide a path for other foreigners who would also like to contribute to this people, society and country as medical doctors and graduates of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Medicine.

In this letter, I would like to show You that:
1. We are able to fit within the 2011 quota for the temporary stay permit or privremeni boravak for medical doctors and a work permit for that profession.
2. That we have a right to apply for a paid staž position when HZZO releases their next tender or natječaj.
3. That we have the right to take the state licensing examination or državni ispit in order to be able to work as licensed medical doctors in Croatia.

Note that all the above points are reasonable ones and they are fully in-line with the recommendations of the Ombudsman of the Republic of Croatia expressed in his letter dated 27th December 2010. Furthermore, the Ombudsman emphasized in his letter that the matter has to be addressed in an urgent manner, “Zatražena je žurnost postupanja, a o poduzetom ćete biti obaviješteni

WE ARE ABLE TO FIT WITHIN THE 2011 QUOTA FOR THE TEMPORARY STAY PERMIT OR PRIVREMENI BORAVAK FOR MEDICAL DOCTORS AND A WORK PERMIT FOR THAT PROFESSION.

Dr. Gassend and I are currently waiting for the quotas from the Ministry of Interior, which was supposed to be released by October 31, 2010 of the year, according to the Članak 118 of Zakon o Strancima, which states, “Vlada Republike Hrvatske utvrđuje godišnju kvotu radnih dozvola najkasnije do 31. listopada tekuće godine za sljedeću godinu i to za produženje već izdanih radnih dozvola i za novo zapošljavanje.

Reading through the other laws about foreigners from the Ministry of Interior’s website, we should also be able to obtain a temporary stay permit, as well as a work permit when we fit into the quotas as medical doctors. The requirements will be fulfilled once we are able to gain a position as a paid intern or stažist through HZZO and the Croatian healthcare system, which falls under the Ministry of Health. According to Članak 24, 42, 51, 52 of the Zakon o Strancima, Dr. Jean-Loup Gassend and I qualify for the right to have a privremi boravak or temporary stay permit if we are accepted by HZZO as employed stažist.

We also qualify for a work permit if we get a staž, and have full employment status through HZZO. According to Članak 122 of the Zakon o Strancima, we have to meet the requirements of: having an employment contract, description of the employer, proof of qualifications, proof of employer registration, proof of tax obligations, and the decision from the Ministry of Health to hire Dr. Gassend and me as stažist. These papers can be easily provided by the Ministry of Health or HZZO with their decision to hire us as full-time employees. According to Članak 7 of Pravilnik o pripravničkom stažu zdravstvenih djelatnika (Narodne Novine 18/94), staž is defined as a full-time employment.

THAT WE HAVE A RIGHT TO APPLY FOR A PAID STAŽ POSITION WHEN HZZO RELEASES THEIR NEXT TENDER OR NATJEČAJ.

According to mr. Dr. Darko Milinovic’s letter (dated on November 11, 2010), he states that, “Workers in health, foreign citizens, which finished medical studies and have degree of doctor of medicine can do staž for this degree in health institutions where they have free places for stažisti, but only as volunteers.” In this way, Dr. Gassend and I have an option of providing HZZO with unpaid labor for the year-long duration of the internship.

However in Članak 7 of the Pravilnik o pripravničkom stažu zdravstvenih djelatnika, it describes the internship position as full-time employment (“Pripravnički staž obavlja se u punom radnom vremenu”). Although it does not state that the position should be paid, it also does not state that if you are a foreigner, full-time employment is voluntary for a year. The decision to offer a volunteer position to foreigners, while there is compensation for Croatian citizens, goes against Article 55 of the Croatian Constitution that states, “Every employed person shall have the right to remuneration, ensuring for himself and his family a free and decent life; Maximum working hours shall be regulated by law; Every employed person shall have the right to a weekly rest and annual holidays with pay, and may not renounce these rights; Employed persons may, in conformity with law, participate in decision-making in the firms in which they work.”

This is a decision that needs to be considered between HZZO, the Ministry of Health and the hospitals that hire the stažist or medical doctor. The Medical Faculty’s plans of integrating staž within the 6th year of medical school would seem to fix the ministry’s problem of providing compensation to the stažist, but this does not help our situation until Croatia joins the European Union. Moreover, it would be appropriate to amend the new ordinances or pravilnik to include an Article that will state an “equal and non-discriminating position as an intern or stazist to all graduates from Croatian universities, to license them as medical doctors, so that they are able to further pursue their careers in medicine“; thus fulfilling the obligations of the Croatian educational system, the Faculty of Medicine and the Hippocrates oath.

THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE THE STATE LICENSING EXAMINATION OR DRŽAVNI ISPIT IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO WORK AS LICENSED MEDICAL DOCTORS IN CROATIA.

“But after finishing, they won’t be able to do their staž licensing exam, because according by paragraph 9 in the bylaws about staž health workers (˝Narodne novine˝ br. 18/94) it says that candidates who are registration for licensing exam among all the other documents they need to give the copy of nationality certificate, and according to that foreign doctors don’t have full documents needed for approval to go on licensing exam, no matter if they finished Medical Faculty in Croatia.”
– translated from the letter of mr. Dr. Milinovic dated November 11, 2010.

The exact words used in Članak 9 of the 1994 revision of the “pravilnik o pripravnickom stažu u zdravstenik djelatnika” (˝Narodne novine˝ br. 18/94) is “ovjerene preslike domovnice” which officially means “certified copy of certificate of nationality”. However, it does not specify which nationality and a putovnica or passport would be lawfully sufficient to meet its requirements. This is also not a law or zakon and in the 1990 version of the ordinance or pravilnik, there was no requirement for a certificate of nationality or domovnica. Since the ordinance can be easily amended, it would be good to also consider a deletion of a single line to create an opportunity for Dr. Gassend and me.

As an example in the “Zakon o zdravstvenoj zaštiti” it is actually specified that you need to have a citizenship or “državljanin Republike Hrvatske” to open a private practice, or as a foreigner you can do so under the law referring to foreign workers. Since there is a discrepancy in the semantics of defining citizens of Croatia, it can be safely assumed that “drzavljanin Republike Hrvatske” is used to specify the Nationals of the Republic of Croatia; whereas there is no mention of the specific nationality of the domovnica required in applying for the state licensing examination.

CLOSING STATEMENTS

With sincerity, I hope that you will review the laws and ordinances, in order to provide us a path to getting our licenses in Croatia. As mentioned in my previous email, I would love to contribute my skills to this country and if Croatia joins the EU, there will be a possibility of the local doctors to leave for better opportunities. In my case (and I’m sure it is similar with Dr. Gassend), I have fallen in love with Croatia and will try to help in every situation to provide the best healthcare that my knowledge allows.

Reading through all the emails, I have found out that there are a lot of people who are willing to help, but they are very hesitant to create any real effort. I pray that my efforts in attending and learning from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Medicine, reading the laws and ordinances of Croatia and having help from my wonderful friends in understanding them will be enough for you to consider letting Dr. Gassend and I to stay, staž, do research, contribute to education, contribute to the healthcare system, contribute to the economy, create diversity, and to make Croatia a destination country for its fine education, healthcare and beauty.

Finally in order to pursue solutions in the most effective manner, I would appreciate if, whenever you mention a text in your argumentation, you would clearly provide the specific Articles and indicate if it is:
1. a law (i.e. a text enacted by the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia) or
2. an ordinance, a procedure or guideline adopted at the level of the Government of the Republic of Croatia or at the level of the concerned Ministry or responsible authority.

Thank you and Sincerely,

Muhammad Zeitsev Azman, MD

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