By Bonnie Klap
Marko Korac, the husband of Vesela Mrden Korac, Ambassador of Croatia, welcomes us in their official residence, which has a stunning view on the harbor of Scheveningen. As Ambassador Mrden Korac is a highly succesful careerwoman, I ask Mr. Korac how he copes with that fact and how he has carved out a life for himself?
“I have absolutely no problem with the fact that she is so succesful, on the contrary, we function as a team and we support each other. When we met she was already a diplomat, so I knew what I was getting into. We met in Budapest, where I was working in sales and marketing of a Croatian food company at that time. I put my own career on hold as my wife could do more important things for our country in her position. But I am lucky that nowadays, according to the bilateral agreements between Croatia and some countries including The Netherlands, family members of diplomatic agents are eligible to work.
I am now allowed to have my own career in most foreign countries. When we arrived here three years ago, I first finished my Masters studies in European Union studies at the University of Leiden and then started working at the Rotterdam Business School, teaching Business ethics and research methods for business. I also coach students with international projects. As the Rotterdam Business School has a collaboration with the Trisakti University in Jakarta, I was fortunate enough to make a few trips to Indonesia, where I helped building the curriculum and structure the classes, so I have been very busy myself. Busy and proud of my school, a place where I can share my international and professional experience and also learn more every day from my fantastic students, colleagues and superiors. Still the most important thing is that my wife and I are a team. That works. On a different note: when we moved to The Netherlands, I experienced the terrific support system of the ASA , the Ambassadors Spouses Association. When you move to a new country it is precious to have such a kind of family network like the ASA that helps and supports in a great way, also addressing the practical things like where to find a doctor, baker, butcher and those kind of things.”
Ambassador Vesela Mrden Korac speaks Dutch, does her husband speak Dutch as well, I ask him?
“My wife speaks ‘Tweede Kamer Dutch’ and I speak ‘Albert Hein and Jumbo Dutch’! I do understand almost everything, but my pronunciation is not that good. I do have quite a few close Dutch friends. I remember, our very first Christmas in The Netherlands when my wife had to accompany a Dutch delegation to Croatia and I was home alone with Christmas! But my Dutch friend, a colleague from Leiden, invited me to spend Christmas at his house and I had this lovely Christmas at his beautiful farm in Houten. I went to church with him and his family for the Christmas Mass. It was very welcoming and memorable.”
Now that Croatia has officially become a Member of the EU, does he feel more at home here?
“I felt welcome right away. We were coming to The Netherlands very often, especially while we were posted in Brussels and we have had a few Dutch people as friends, including the Dutch Ambassador in Canada and his spouse, where we were posted before coming here. So we were very well briefed before our formal arrival and at the end it’s a lifestyle very similar to the Croatian one. I have great admiration for the Dutch ‘can do-mentality.’ There is so much water in and around this country, but they did this fantastic job in conquering the water. This can-do mentality is, in my opinion, the most impressive trait of the Dutch.”
How does this busy couple spend their precious free time?
“We love being outdoors, walking on the beach for instance and we like going to Kijkduin. The distance from our house to Kijkduin is 6 kilometres, but I am willing to walk that distance and back, as there is this place, where they have those amazing ‘Poffertjes.” For ‘Poffertjes met advokaatje’ I am happy to walk 12 kilometers!”