Parliament Speaker's address at 22nd anniversary of Croatia's independence

Zagreb - Parliament Speaker Josip Leko during a special session of the Sabor on Saturday marking the 22nd anniversary of Croatia's independence said that the events of 22 years ago should serve as a sign post for the future of the country which we wish to build in freedom, democracy and peace.

"Let us be wise stately and learn from history, that is the path to development and progress," Leko said to the Sabor during the festivities marking Independence Day, October 8. He greeted all Croatia citizens for that day and wished them all progress in a democratic and just Croatia.

On 8 October 1991 the Croatian Sabor adopted a historic decision to sever all state-legal ties with other republics and provinces of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) which meant was Croatia was an independent country and that day is celebrated as Independence Day. That 8 October 1991 was without any exaggeration a dramatic day for Croatia, Leko said recalling everything that Croatia was faced with in the early nineties after the first multi-party elections.

The unity of Croatian citizens during those dramatic days, 22 years ago was not shaken, on the contrary, the decision to sever all ties to the former Yugoslavia just fortified that unity to defend and liberate their country, he said. It is that unity of Croatian citizens that is the key to realising the dream of an independent, sovereign and democratic Croatian state.

Leko underscored that on October 8th, 1991 this current Croatia as we know it was in fact already defined as an independent, democratic state with a high level of respect for fundamental human rights and national minority rights and as a member of the most important international organisations and now as a member of the European Union and a regional factor of peace and stability. He ascertained that over the past 20 or so years Croatia had achieved a great deal and with regard to state development it has on the most part reached countries in the region. All that brings to mind that Croatia and its citizens have managed to succeed despite the destruction of war and post-war reconstruction.

"That is a good foundation for new hope and new optimism," Leko underscored. He said that Croatians should be proud of what they have achieved but that they should not get carried away and think that they have achieved it all. He stressed that Croatia and its citizens still have a lot of work to build an economically successful and socially just society.

Independence Day, Leko said, is a good opportunity to remember the scores of victims, horrific destruction and pain and Croatian defenders and all those who were affected in the Homeland War. This is an opportunity to remember the "muddy trenches, and months spent in damp and cold basements under a rain of mortar shells, of crying children, the smell of burnt houses." That was the price of our freedom, payment in blood without which it would be difficult to imagine that we could be sitting here in peace today," he said.

Leko recalled that today in the Sabor there were members of parliament who themselves took part in bringing the most important decisions leading to Croatia's independence for which he thanked them for their prudence and vision.

In addition to MPs, today's brief celebrations were attended by former parliament speakers and prime ministers along with representatives of the political, public and religious life in the country. The president and prime minister sent their delegates to the celebration.

Author: Hina