“Croatia has been and will remain committed to the European values of democracy, freedom and solidarity.”- Mr. Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia

Edited by Anna Popper

Since its EU accession in 2013, Croatia has fulfilled two strategic goals: joining the eurozone and the Schengen Area, making it one of 15 EU countries that are simultaneously member states of NATO, EU, the eurozone and the Schengen Area. Croatia strongly advocates the values on which the EU rests: freedom, democracy, equality, human rights and the rule of law, along with unity and solidarity, which are of particular importance at this time, as security and energy stability are crucial issues across the European continent. Croatia continues to be actively involved in solving the political, social and economic challenges facing Europe in order to realize a safe, just and prosperous common European future.

To mark this historic anniversary of the Republic of Croatia, the Embassy of Croatia in Budapest hosted a celebratory event at the European Commission Representation in Hungary (Europe Point) on 28 June 2023, attended by senior Hungarian officials, members of the diplomatic corps and Croatian nationals and friends of this stunning country full of life and charm, a “Jewel of the Adriatic”.

In his welcome speech Mr. Mátyás Maksi, Head of the European Commission Representation said:

“Croatia has a lot to celebrate these days: last year Croatia and Hungary celebrated 30 years of diplomatic relations, since January 2023 Croatia has been part of the eurozone and the Schengen family, and this year Croatia also celebrates 25 years since the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia.

It is a great pleasure to take part in the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Croatia’s accession to the European Union. This day marks a milestone in the history of both Croatia and the EU, and gives us an opportunity to come together and celebrate our collective efforts and achievements.

On the 1 July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union and since then has played an important role in the process of European integration. Since its accession, Croatia has contributed to strengthening our common values and goals, and has been committed to building a strong and united European community.

Joining the EU was not merely a legal act; it was a landmark moment that reaffirmed Croatia’s commitment to the values of peace, stability and democracy. Over the past ten years, Croatia has successfully fulfilled its obligations in the accession process, demonstrating its ability to meet challenges and adapt to the dynamic changes of the European community.

It is also a great honour to welcome you to the opening of the exhibition ‘Archaeology from the Air’ by Mr. Sanjin Mihelić, Director of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb. We gather here to embark on a mesmerizing journey through time and space, exploring Croatia’s rich cultural heritage from a truly unique perspective – the aerial lens. Archaeology, the study of the human past through the examination of artifacts and structures, has always fascinated me. It allows us to connect with our ancestors and gain a deeper understanding of our collective history to better understand ourselves today. As you can also see from this exhibition in Europe Point, Croatia boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage and its accession to the EU has helped preserve these values and enrich our shared European identity. The strong dedication and hard work of the Croatian people serve as an example, earning the trust of the candidate countries and the institutions of the European Union.

We continue to highly value Croatia’s active participation in the political, economic, and social life of the EU. Croatia’s accession has brought numerous benefits and opportunities for its citizens, enhancing economic growth, promoting social cohesion, and strengthening the rule of law. Furthermore, Croatia’s membership has contributed to the stability and prosperity of the entire European Union.

On this special occasion, let us renew our commitment to the principles and values that underpin the European Union. Together we can build a Europe that is stronger, more prosperous and unitedCroatia’s journey as an EU member state serves as an inspiration, demonstrating the transformative power of European integration.

Once again, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Croatia and its people on this remarkable milestone. May our friendship and cooperation continue to thrive as we move forward hand in hand towards a better and more united Europe.”

Photo: EU Commission

The main speaker H.E. Mladen Andrlić, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Hungary addressed the audience:

“Thank you very much for this gathering today, where we mark the 10 years of Croatia’s membership in the European Union. I am delighted to celebrate this anniversary here in Budapest and to underline that this all could not be achieved without Hungary’s understanding, support and cooperation. So, Hungary and Hungarians, let me thank you once again! But the thanks also go to the entire EU community!

As recently stated by the European Commission, Croatia has experienced exceptional growth and development since joining the EU. Its economy has become stronger and more resilient, with the investment rates being high and growing. Additional investments in infrastructure, innovation, education and training that increase Croatia’s global competitiveness are also based on the EU Cohesion Funds and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. With Croatia’s entry into the Eurozone and Schengen system on the 1st January this year, new opportunities arise for companies and individuals.

To quote Croatian Prime Minister Mr. Andrej Plenković, who emphasized these days that ‘Croatian national interests are realized faster, better and more efficiently when you are a member of the EU. Thus, I can say that Croatia has been and will remain committed to the European values of democracy, freedom, and solidarity.

The EU is an irreplaceable protection and connection, especially for not so big and open countries like Croatia. Therefore, I am really glad that today we celebrate this special anniversary by presenting some particular values in economy, culture and tourism on local, regional and national level. Here are some of the most distinguished leaders from the Adriatic, as well from the hinterland, being an integral part of our common European success.

Finally, I am really proud to announce the opening of the exhibition ‘Archaeology from the Air’, which also shows Croatia’s belonging to the common European family.”

In his remarks, the Guest of Honour, Mr Tibor Navracsics, Hungarian Minister of Regional Development conveyed congratulations and appreciation on the occasion of this important anniversary of Croatian history:

“Today we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Croatia’s accession to the European Union. We also celebrate the Hungarian-Croatian cooperation, which has seen many achievements in recent years. In 2022, we marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Hungarian-Croatian diplomatic relations. Hungary was one of the first countries to unconditionally support Croatia’s independence aspirations, including through military assistance, and one of the first to recognise the country’s independence. One of the successes of our country’s EU Presidency in 2011 was the decision taken during that period to allow Croatia to join the EU, which Hungary supported all along.

We also congratulate Croatia on its accession to the Schengen area and adopting the euro. These successes are a good illustration of the significant achievements Croatia has made in the 10 years since accession. It is now up to us to see how we can best exploit the benefits of dismantling internal borders.

The strength of tourism cooperation between our countries was illustrated by the fact that Hungary was one of the first countries to agree with Croatia on mutual recognition of immunity cards during the pandemic. As part of the excellent tourist cooperation and in line with previous years, a temporary Hungarian consular agency is also operating in Split this summer.

Enlargement policy and the security of the Western Balkans are two areas in which our countries have traditionally formed a close alliance. It is our duty to keep the European Union’s attention focused on the region and the problems it faces.

A key factor in our good neighbourly relations is the national minorities in our countries, for whose well-being we share responsibility. Both Hungary and Croatia have shown exemplary commitment to protecting their rights and promoting their well-being. Our economic relations have made significant progress over the past 30 years, thanks to our countries’ successful integration into the European Union. Croatia is the third most important destination for Hungarian investments. We are delighted that Hungary has become Croatia’s 4th most important trading partner. Another good example of close cooperation between Hungary and Croatia within the EU is the fact that both countries strengthened the Friends of Cohesion group during the planning of the 2021-2027 budget cycle.

Last but not least, let me mention that Hungary will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024. The demographic priorities of our presidency are an important objective in line with the Croatian Government’s ambitions.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Croatia on this beautiful anniversary and I look forward to deepening Hungarian-Croatian cooperation in a number of important areas for the future of the EU.”

The photo exhibition entitled “Archaeology from the Air” was presented by Mr. Sanjin Mihelić, Director of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.

Within the framework of “A Touch of Croatia” the guests were given presentations, a kind of special mix of tourism and gastronomy, by prominent representatives of three Croatian regions: Osijek-Baranja County by Prefect Mr. Ivan Anušić, the city of Novalja on Pag island by Mayor of Novalja Mr. Ivan Dabo, and the municipality of Mošćenička Draga by Mayor Mr. Rikardo Staraj.

The vibe of the evening was raised by music and song performances of the Koprive Band, while the invitees enjoyed fine Croatian food specialities and wines from the guest regions at the joyful celebration.

Congratulations for your successful 10 years!

Long Live Croatia!

Source: Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Budapest

Photos by Ms Neda Maretic and Diplomatic Press Agency