Zagreb - Senior Croatian state officials laid wreaths at Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetery on Independence Day on Wednesday to commemorate all Croatians who had struggled for the freedom and independence of Croatia. Wreaths were laid at the Tomb of National Heroes as well as on the graves of Croatia's first President Franjo Tudjman and former Prime Minister Ivica Racan.
Croatia formally declared independence on October 8, 1991 after the expiry of a three-month moratorium following a referendum on independence from the Yugoslav federation.
Speaking to the press after the ceremony, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that Croatia was slowly but visibly emerging from the recession, and that the country should focus on real problems, such as youth unemployment, rather than on less important problems such as electoral legislation.Announcing that he was travelling to Milano today to attend an EU summit on unemployment, Milanovic said that his government had achieved some progress on this front thanks to active government measures and that more would be achieved through the EU Youth Guarantee scheme.
President Ivo Josipovic was asked to comment on criticisms from war veterans that Croatia had not become a country they had fought for. He said that people from all walks of life were critical, not just the veterans. "There is a group of people who think that they have the exclusive right to represent all war veterans. There are a lot of veterans, they differ among themselves and have different political views, which is what should be borne in mind when talking about the veterans," the president said. When asked to assess the situation in the country, Josipovic said that great progress had been made in respect of democracy and human rights and the international position of Croatia, while the biggest problem was the economy.
Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said that more should be done to increase the social security of citizens, noting that the nation-building process was never over. "We want to continue building democratic standards and democratic institutions. There's still a lot of work to be done and we must never tire. Croatia has achieved significant political goals by joining NATO and the European Union, the elite company of states and nations. We have expanded our possibilities and increased our responsibility for our future." (Hina)