The President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has hosted a gala reception on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the international recognition of the Republic of Croatia and the 100th anniversary of the unification of Međimurje with the Croatian Homeland for Heads of Diplomatic Missions, International Organizations
and Military Attachés accredited to the Republic of Croatia.
The President’s address:
Dear Envoy of the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament,
Dear Envoy of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs,
Dear Prefect Posavec and Mayor Kovač,
Distinguished guests, dear friends,
It is my special pleasure to address you on this festive occasion marking the 27th anniversary of the international recognition of the Republic of Croatia and the 100th anniversary of the unification of Međimurje with the Croatian Homeland.
Allow me to extend a special welcome to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in the Republic of Croatia Apostolic Nuncio Msgr. Giuseppe Pinto.
I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you in Čakovec, the centre of Međimurje County. This city, in particular, keeps a memory of the famous Croatian noble family Zrinski which has given us, over several centuries, many greats who are credited with the defence and cultural and economic development of Croatia.
By ceremoniously marking the Day of International Recognition of the Republic of Croatia in Čakovec, we are simultaneously paying tribute to all those who have, one hundred years ago, contributed to the adoption of the Resolution on the Secession of Međimurje from the Hungarian State. Already in the first sentence of this solemn decision it is emphasized that “among the Croatian people in Međimurje, there has always been a desire to politically unite with their countrymen of the same blood and language”. For centuries, Croats in Međimurje have preserved their language and national identity, despite the culturally and politically unfavourable circumstances. By the end of the First World War, whose anniversary we recently marked in Paris, the conditions were also created for the people of Međimurje to express their authentic political will. It was confirmed in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon, following which Međimurje became an integral part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. For Croatia and the Croatian people, this is an important day in history and the reason why in 2005 the Croatian Parliament proclaimed 9th of January as the Day Commemorating the Resolution on the Secession of Međimurje from the Hungarian State.
We are grateful to all patriots who have, in these decisive times, contributed to the political realization of the authentic will of the Croatian people in Međimurje, and to the will of all patriots who fought for Međimurje in the Second World War and the Homeland War, so that it remains an integral part of Croatia.
This is the history that we are proud of. Today, Međimurje is one of the most developed parts of Croatia. The people of Međimurje, diligent and clever, are accustomed to relying on their hard work and community. That is why Međimurje is by many criteria one of the leading counties in Croatia when it comes to the level of development.
At the same time, Međimurje most closely links us with our friends and neighbouring States of Hungary and Slovenia. In these borderlands we feel the fertile cultural pervasiveness of our nations, as part of what we could call the authentic spirit of Europe.
The Croatian people have always belonged to this common spirit. Our geopolitical position, spiritual heritage and the history of our struggle for freedom and an independent State have shaped our identity while forming and strengthening our political, economic and cultural ties with European, and other nations. Building on the foundations of this heritage and with Croatia’s international recognition on 15 January 1992, the Croatian people were given the opportunity, using the instruments of their own sovereign State, to become engaged in all positive European processes. Our aspiration to become part of the large family of European Union Member States, realized several years ago, is an expression of our deep conviction and sense that Europe has a unique destiny. It is derived from our common spirit and historical experience, which teaches us that it is only through cooperation and solidarity that we can build a system based on peace and progress for all European States and nations.
The Republic of Croatia, as one of the bastions of such a European spirit, seeks to make the greatest possible contribution, by both shaping policies within the European Union and through other initiatives, such as the already globally recognized Three Seas Initiative. This Initiative is an expression of our desire to create a stronger link among Central European countries that are EU members and which in many ways share joint historical experiences and aspirations. It is enough to take a look at the map to see how the Initiative encompasses the countries on the Adriatic-Baltic axis, as well as the countries of the Danube River basin from the Alps to the Black Sea. This geopolitical and cultural crossroads of Europe’s North and South, East and West, has for centuries been an area of many conflicts, but also an area of cooperation. Now, we seek to jointly use this unique historical experience as the starting point for
We emphasize our openness for cooperation and partnerships on specific projects with interested countries and business stakeholders from around the world, which are committed to the core values of the European Union, and partners from other countries are always welcome to cooperate. I am convinced that the further development of the Initiative will have a beneficial effect on the overall European and international relations.
We hope that we will soon be able to contribute to this goal as a member of the OECD. We seek to continue, in good faith, the discussions on resolving the outstanding issues that are still obstacles to our legitimate aspirations. Those aspirations are an expression of our responsibility for collective development and their realization, which we look forward to as soon as possible, will be an expression of the readiness of all members to consolidate those policies that will make us stronger in the face of current and future challenges.
And these challenges are numerous, first of all demographic. From the point of view of living standards, although Europeans have on average never lived better, the majority of European States face a loss of population. As I stressed last year, this clearly indicates that the solution to the problem is not just maintaining positive economic growth rates and a good living standard. On the contrary, I hold that our further progress primarily depends on the cultural, moral and other spiritual values that we will offer our youth, to what extent we will listen to the democratically expressed will of our people and devote ourselves to social justice.
Among the priorities of the Croatian policy is promoting bilateral relations with neighbouring countries and solving the remaining outstanding issues while remaining committed to the mutual protection of national minority rights. Moreover, as a signatory State to the Washington and Dayton Peace Accords, we are strongly committed to further providing support to Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in their efforts to achieve full national equality and constitutionality. In this regard I wish to underline that Croats, with their participation in the 1992 referendum, were a key factor in constituting Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent State, they were an inevitable factor in its defence, and today are the most spirited promoters of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in the European Union. For this commitment, stronger encouragement of the European Union is needed, which Croatia persistently and wholeheartedly supports.
Furthermore, Croatia will continue to actively support and encourage all processes guaranteeing the stability of South East Europe in order that all its nations and States, that wish to do so, may become members of the European Union and NATO. Today, when Romania is taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and at the same time inaugurating the Presidency Trio to which Croatia belongs, we can state that one of the goals of our Presidency will be to continue the enlargement process and the fastest possible accession of South East European States in the European Union, the community to which they belong, naturally, following the fulfilment of all conditions for membership and the inevitable fostering of good neighbourly relations.
The year 2019 is also the final year of preparations before Croatia assumes the Presidency of the European Union, which we consider an exceptional challenge, certainly the greatest one after Croatia’s accession to the EU just 5 years ago. Nevertheless, I hold that this is an extraordinary opportunity for Croatia’s progress and growth in every respect, and especially in terms of creating a global brand and strengthening our administrative capacities.
This year we also celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Republic of Croatia’s membership in NATO and at the same time the 70th Anniversary of its founding. The North Atlantic Alliance has faced many challenges in this period, it has survived and outgrown the Cold War and transformed into a significant factor of the security architecture which, with its 29 member countries, remains relevant for the future. The Republic of Croatia is proud that in the past ten years it has had the opportunity to be part of some of the largest and most significant operations and missions in the history of the Alliance and contribute to reinforcing peace and security, to protecting and educating women and girls, and to developing society as a whole, in global regions affected by crisis, where these values are most threatened. Our relations with other States, particularly our strategic partnership with the United States of America (including within NATO), our constructive cooperation with the Russian Federation and China, further intensification of ties with Israel as well as increasing economic cooperation with other States of the Mediterranean, are constant factors of our presence in international relations. I am confident that this year and the coming years will provide opportunities to increase economic and diplomatic ties with many Asian and African countries. South America, in whose countries there are more than half a million descendants of Croatian emigrants, is of particular interest as an area of cooperation, as well as Australia and Canada, where there is also a large Croatian community. In this sense, I have frequently spoken of a “global Croatia” that has enormous potential in contributing to the economic development of Croatia as well as increasing and strengthening our ties with other States and nations. An important role in this will certainly be played by the China + 16 Summit to be hosted by Croatia in April 2019. We hope that it will help further deepen the ties and connect the East and the West, which Marco Polo embarked on so long ago.
I strongly believe in our ability and determination to successfully fulfil all these and other tasks and challenges and that Croatia will be even more strongly positioned as a responsible and constructive member of the international community.
Excellencies and all esteemed guests, allow me to use this formal occasion to wish you a happy new year, many successful professional endeavours and all the best. I am confident that we will continue to commit ourselves to the development and strengthening of ties and cooperation between our States, both for promoting bilateral relations and for our joint contribution to international development and peace, for the well-being of all people and nations.