EC’s Donald Tusk’s Pep Talk Elates Croatian Parliament

Donald Tusk President of European Council addresses Croatian Parliament 16 January 2017 Photo:Pool/FA/Cropix

Donald Tusk
President of European Council
addresses Croatian Parliament
16 January 2017

European Council president’s, Donald Tusk’s Monday 16 January speech in the Croatian parliament celebrating 25 years since the international recognition of Croatia’s independence was a well-received congratulatory recitation of Croatia’s accomplishments with a succinct nudge as to future directions awaiting the country. The deepest political thrust of his speech, however, appears in his mention of reconciliation “of feuding nations, although very difficult, is becoming a reality.” This reality, though, this process of reconciliation with the aggressor (Serbia) from the Croatian side, has, during the past decade or so, left Croatian veterans, the victims of Serb aggression as well as the progress away from communist Yugoslavia heritage at a distressing disadvantage; alas that part of Turk’s speech leaves a bitter taste.

While pep talks, such as the one delivered by Tusk on Monday, boost the spirits and generally encourage for future undertakings, I do trust the future undertakings on any reconciliation with the aggressor will not be as if it’s business as usual just because Tusk lavished it with compliments regardless of Croatia’s internal bitter divisions and unrest about it. To be fair and balanced that process of reconciliation will require a turn-around in tactics and content to benefit Croatian issues, the issues of the victim, not Serbia’s or Serb ones.

Delivering his speech in the Croatian language, Tusk went on to say: “…I know how highly you value your independence. You have paid for it a high price. Twenty-five years ago, Europe and the United Nations recognised your independence in the belief that Croatia would become a part of the political community, for whom freedom, peace, respect for others, observance of international rules and order, are genuine priorities.

And you have not let us down. You have used those twenty-five years well. While carrying the baggage of difficult experiences and healing wounds after a cruel war, you were able to protect your nation against hatred, and you started the great work of building a modern European state. Europe highly values your political maturity, patience and consistency. Thanks to your efforts, the whole region is enjoying an increasingly good reputation, while the reconciliation of feuding nations, although very difficult, is becoming a reality. You are a sign of hope for the change of dreadful fate, which has so harshly, for whole centuries, tested this part of Europe.

I know how difficult this process is, how much sacrifice, and what strategic imagination, it requires. I deeply believe that you will succeed in this work, united internally as well as with the whole of Europe. Independence and democracy do not always have a sweet taste, I know something about this. Conflicts and differences are inherent in the logic of history and in our everyday life. That is why it is so important to continuously search for what connects us, over and over again, tirelessly. You also often argue among each other, also in this building, about your future; that is normal. It is essential, however, that you continue in this great effort for the sake of peace and stability in the region and in the whole of Europe. You have every right to be proud of these twenty-five years, and this pride connects all Croats. Europe is also proud of you and your achievements.”

Tusk’s relentless accolades, optimism and praise — suggesting that everything Croatian governing and presidential leadership and their supporters did meant something truly great (and will continue to mean something truly great) — impregnated his speech so much so that the speech itself effectively functioned as an EU recipe as to how Croatia is to move forward.

Donald Tusk (L) Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitaroviv (C) Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (R) Photo: net,hr

Donald Tusk (L)
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitaroviv (C)
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic (R)
Photo: net,hr

He accentuated how Croatia plays a key role in South-Eastern Europe for the EU and praised Croatia for “incredible achievements”. Tusk stood in the Croatian parliament as some sort of EU’s reassurer-in-chief, insisting that paths to independence and democracy always come with conflicts and differences, rarely move in a straight line forward, and that is why “we must contiguously search for what connects us”. The fact is, Croats do not need to search for what connects them, Croats true to Croatia know what connects them; it’s the original goal, voted for by 94% of voters in 1991 referendum on independence – it’s the goal of leaving communism behind and burying it. The situation when the search for what connects “them” within Croatia arises is when communists and communist heritage don’t budge from positions of power, exert power over those who fought for and wanted independence in the first place (unlike them) and constantly try coming up with ideas or rhetoric trying to show what connects them to those who fought for independence. The connections, if established, are usually not genuine, though – or truly lasting. But, Turk’s pep talk does come in handy for those with their hands stretched out towards the EU waiting for handouts of EU funds.

Croatia’s geopolitical position, in many ways, guarantees it a prime seat for the way forward as a facilitator of EU’s plans to integrate South-East Europe into the EU. Croatia’s foreign minister Davor Ivo Stier had said before that in 2016 the focus of Croatia’s foreign policy was put on its relations with neighbouring countries and support to their EU and NATO aspirations as well as on the stability of the southeast of Europe. Judging from Tusk’s speech in Croatia’s parliament, from speeches also delivered by Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic it’s clear that in 2017 the focus of Croatia’s foreign policy will stay the same as in 2016. Given the shaky-grounds of current global and neighbouring political circumstances that often suggest possible shifts of alliances and cooperation it will be interesting to see how capable this rather new Croatian government will be in coping. Whether the new US President Donald Trump will actually move towards shattering all or some of the dreams of prosperity dreamed in EU for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and other similar economy boosters, whether Brexit will turn a significant slab of UK trade tides away from the EU and towards the Atlantic is yet to be seen and how that will affect the EU expansion into South-Eastern Europe plans. It’s only natural that the EU will look after itself, or rather Brussels will. When it comes to this key role Croatia is to play in South-Eastern Europe it appears that there are no visible or palpable plans around to orient one with knowledge and make one comfortably satisfied that Croatia will in this role look after its own interests first. But, judging from Donald Turk’s speech and its apparent function it stands to conclusion that all the Croatian government and president need to do, might do, is nod, nod, and nod – in Brussels’s direction. Oh dear – how restrictive for any Croatian interests that may pop up and not be fully in line what EU envisages . Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Homeland And Diaspora Equally Deserving For International Recognition of Independent Croatia

The Daily Telegraph Mirror - Australia 17 January 1992 the day after Australia as first non-European country recognised Croatia as independent and sovereign country Photo source: Ina Vukic

The Daily Telegraph Mirror – Australia
17 January 1992 the day after
Australia as first non-European country
recognised Croatia as
independent and sovereign country
Photo source: Ina Vukic

International recognition of Croatia’s independence is one of the most important events in Croatia’s history and Croatia with its diaspora celebrate that 15 January 1992 event every year and so too this year. Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, in his HRT TV interview on 13 January 2017, leading up to the celebrations of that Day of international recognition of Croatia’s independence, left an impression of a well rehearsed, autocued, but a calamitously lacking thanksgiving speech. While, rightly so, thanking Croatia’s veterans for Croatia’s independence, albeit like some rehearsed parrot – he totally omitted to say a single word about the diaspora’s contribution; truly disappointing. And this is a Prime Minister of a government that keeps trying to convince the nation how important the diaspora is in Croatia’s economic and other recovery.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic Photo: Screenshot 13 January 2017

Croatian Prime Minister
Andrej Plenkovic
Photo: Screenshot 13 January 2017

First of all, we can be proud to be a part of that generation that has experienced the independence of the Republic of Croatia and I think we need to, before anything else, always remember and express our gratitude to the veterans who had enabled our freedom and our independence, to the stately wisdom of the first president of Croatia, dr Franjo Tudjman, who had in exceedingly complicated international circumstances, together with the other actors in the then Croatian government, enabled the achievement of the international recognition of independence of Croatia, which we mark on 15 January…” said Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Croatian national TV.

Croatian diaspora and its enormous contribution to the efforts in asserting recognition of Croatia’s independence in the countries Croats lived in, was simply dropped out of PM Plenkovic’s vocabulary. What can one think about that? Not much, except something that includes an assessment that the PM is superficial and careless about this most important milestone in Croatia’s history. Not a PM that can easily be respected by people who cherish Croatian independence and the enormous work and suffering and sacrifices that went into it, to bring it about.

Croatia's Minister for Veterans' Affairs Tomo Medved Photo credit:

Croatia’s Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Tomo Medved
Photo credit:

To top this shameful blunder by the Prime Minister comes the Minister for veterans’ affairs, Tomo Medved, at the celebration of the Day of the international recognition of Croatian independence in Karlovac and says that it’s “like coming out of the Homeland war as victors but that it feels as though someone has, somewhere along the way, stolen that pride and as if they have sowed some seeds of depression and hopelessness into the ground… As if we don’t live in the most beautiful country in the world, and as if we don’t have the most prosperous and the best conditions for life. Perhaps, besides missing that optimism, somewhere in us during the ten or fifteen years after the Homeland War that decisiveness and ease of decision making, which you Croatian veterans, generals, war commanders, city Meyers, leaders from the war days, also went missing…”.


As far as I have been able to observe and ascertain, the fact is that Croatian veterans have always kept their pride in what greatness they had achieved for Croatia’s independence but that pride had often been largely ignored and belittled by all governments in Croatia since at least year 2000. So, for the minister to talk about “theft of pride” rather than “theft of opportunities to express and reward that pride” is a bit too politically, or otherwise, “rich” for me to digest.


I now turn to the best speech regarding the international recognition of Croatia’s independence ever delivered – the speech delivered by Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s first president on 15 January 1992; and I celebrate that day accordingly.

Croatia's first President dr Franjo Tudjman delivering televised speech on the occassion of international recognition of Croatia's independence 15 January 1992 Photo: screenshot

Croatia’s first President
dr Franjo Tudjman
delivering televised speech on the occassion of
international recognition of Croatia’s independence
15 January 1992
Photo: screenshot

Today’s date, 15 the January 1992, will be engraved in gold letters into the overall 14-centuries of history of the Croatian people on this, for us holy ground, between the Mura, the Drava, the Danube and the Adriatic Sea. After declaring its independence and sovereignty, and breaking its state-legal ties with the former Yugoslav Federation, Croatia has achieved international recognition of its independence. Having, despite all the ominous adversities and limitations, safeguarded during its entire history its national and state identity, Croatia is, after full nine centuries, returning into the international community of nations as a free and internationally recognized country. The act of the recognition of Croatia by all the countries of the European Community has a special historic meaning due to the fact that the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the international recognition of Croatia’s independence can no longer be brought into question and also in the framework of the community of world nations… Enormous efforts, suffering and victims of people of our days, both of the Homeland and emigrated Croatia are equally built into that realised goal, which was dreamt about for centuries. We have achieved that through decisiveness and prudence …” were words spoken by Croatia’s first President dr Franjo Tudjman on 15 January 1992.

25 years on we remember well and with pride, the efforts, the sacrifice, the victims and the victorious that achieved this crucial milestone for independent Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: