It is a moment of Croatia’s great happiness and pride, and it is a genuine
privilege and pleasure to be able to share it here in Israel with our Israeli
On July 1, the Republic of Croatia accedes to the European Union,
becoming its 28th member state. A dream coming true, a labor coming to fruition,
it is a concluding as well as an opening chapter in Croatian history, a moment
of celebration and reflection.
Having developed its modern statehood upon
the foundations of liberty, independence and democracy, intertwined with a
profound sense of sharing the highest values of a Europe which is whole, free
and at peace, Croatia has succeeded in achieving its strategic objective of
joining the community of European and North American democracies, having become
first a member of NATO, and now joining the European Union, sharing
responsibilities and benefits of these memberships.
From the very
beginning, following the liberation from the Communist oppression and the
disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, the European integration, with all it
entailed, has been the focal long-term national aim, setting the defining
features of the Croatian state and society, driving forward Croatia’s quest for
independence and international recognition, its longing for a better future
which required also Croatia’s ultimate sacrifices in the defense of the
As a symbolic embodiment of these profound ties, the very date
of the Croatian National Day – the Statehood Day – June 25, celebrating the 1991
Croatian Parliament’s decision on Croatia’s sovereignty and independence, very
closely coincides with the July 1 date of Croatia’s actual EU
So closely and symbolically coinciding, yet again, with the
aforementioned dates, weaving the interlacing threads of life of a nation
through times and events, forging the identity of today’s Croatia, is the date
of June 22: celebrating Croatia’s Anti-Fascist Struggle Day, marking a day in
1941 when the first organized resistance unit was formed in Croatia, which was
also the first such a unit in then-occupied Europe.
political and moral parameters have been set by the legacy of one of the
strongest resistance movements in occupied Europe during World War II, fighting
against the Nazi and Fascist invaders and their domestic collaborators, against
the collaborationist Ustashi regime, responsible for terrible suffering,
affecting so tragically the Jewish community.
integration is deeply rooted in the centuries of Croatia’s fusion with the life
of Europe, encompassing politics, society, economy, culture, arts and science.
In all these spheres of life, Croatian Jews have been contributing remarkably
and they continue to contribute to Croatia’s achievements. Their lives and their
lasting legacy extend a special bond between the Croats and the Jews, between
Croatia and Israel.
Hence a very special meaning to the celebration of
Croatia’s major success, its entry into the EU, here in Israel.
background of its identity and shared European values, in order to ultimately
accede to the EU Croatia had to complete the full range of highly demanding,
all-encompassing reforms – needed anyway, for Croatia’s own sake – meant to make
its legislation, public service, economy and society, undergoing a
post-Communist and post-war transition, compatible with the advanced standards
of the EU.
Croatia’s accession to the EU confirms a constant value and
appeal of the EU membership. It sends an encouraging message to our friends in
the region of South- East Europe who are following the same track and whom we
wholeheartedly support. No particular problem faced by the EU today – economic
or other, which surely needs to be addressed efficiently – can really overshadow
a totality of its fundamental achievements as well as its enduring, proven and
irreplaceable potential for bringing peace, reconciliation, mutual
understanding, stability, welfare, prosperity and influence to
The whole of Europe is greater than the sum of its parts. Croatia
has joined the Union out of its firm belief in the EU’s remarkable relevance in
enabling all our citizens to live better, our societies to be more just,
democratic, equitable and tolerant, better equipped to deter any extremism, our
economies to be more efficient and competitive, our states to be more secure and
cooperative, our collective external action to have more leverage and to be more
The European Union has acquired its foreign and security
policy identity as a natural extension of the union of its members in so many
other fields. It has a crucial role to play in the international arena,
addressing a full range of the most topical issues, which stand to gain from its
In the Middle East, it possesses a unique
potential to support efforts to find and keep genuine peace and reconciliation,
prosperity and stability. It has the strength of its own example at its
disposal. Its extensive political, economic, academic, scientific and cultural
links with Israel, coupled with a whole network of rich relationships between
its individual member states and Israel, supply ingredients for a mutually
Croatia is particularly looking forward to being
able to enhance its engagement in the region and to enrich its friendship and
interaction with Israel with its new, European dimension.
The writer is
the Croatian ambassador to Israel.