By Marija Avramovic – Zagreb
Croatia yesterday marked the Statehood Day, a public holiday in memory of the Constitutional Act of the independence and sovereignty, which the Parliament adopted on June 25, 1991.
During the celebration of this holiday, which lasted the whole day, Early in the morning a state delegation made of the President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic, the Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and the President of Parliament Josip Leko Mirogoj jointly laid a wreath at the cemetery and lit a candle at the memorial Voice of Croatian victims – wall of pain, then at the tombs of national heroes, at the Central Cross in the Alley of killed Croatian Homeland War Veterans, the tomb of the first Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and the common tomb for unidentified victims of the war in the Crematorium.
After laying a wreath, Josipovic said that in today’s celebration of Croatia’s birthday “we remember the successes and problems that we have, and, of course, all those who died so that we would now be free”, while in his congratulatory message which he instructed to Croatian citizens on Tuesday night, he recalled the reasons why the Croats wanted an independent state.
“We asked for freedom, democracy, progress, human rights, a better life. Whenever we evaluate today’s Croatia, and when we think about its future, let us remember these ideals and keep what we have managed to achieve. However, it is our duty to go a step further “said the president noting that Croatia’s independence had to be achieved by defending the homeland against aggression.
Referring to the Croatian population in regard to Statehood Day, Leko wished them that the anniversary of the holiday reinforce their faith in the future, and that the holiday of Croatian democracy and freedom is spend cheerfully despite the deep economic crisis shaking the country for several years and the fatigue and joylessness, which had been governing the society.
“First of all remember those who died for Croatia” Milanovic said and reminded that they gave everything they had, their own lives. He also considered the unfavorable economic situation in the country, just like the Financial Times (FT) journalist who, in yesterday’s issue, published an article which claimed that the Croatian economic is the most flabby of EU countries and Croatia’s economic situation is compared with Greece’s.
“The country is in recession for a sixth year in a row, during which time it lost almost 13% of its GDP. Unemployment is at about 17%, and among young people it almost reaches 50%”, according to the FT article.
U.S. President Barack Obama also congratulated to all Croats, stressing that Croatia is an example for other countries wishing to join NATO and the EU.
“To the entire Croatian people we wish on this important occasion all the best, while remaining committed to further strengthening of our bilateral relations,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on behalf of Obama, congratulated Statehood Day.
Later in the day, Leko and Josipovic attended a Mass in the parish church of St. Mark in Zagreb, led by the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanic and for marking the end of one of the most important holidays in Croatian the Croatian National Theatre held a gala concert of the Symphony Orchestra and a Choir of the Croatian Radio Television attended by Josipovic, Milanovic and Leko.
Many politicians used social networks to congratulate the Croatian people, so a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Tonino Picula in his tweet yesterday recalled that “this was the first Statehood Day after the accession of Croatia to the EU and citizens should feel that the state is coming more and more on their side and not less”.