19:42 / 30.05.2023.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Croatia celebrates Statehood Day!

Croatian flag

Croatian flag

Foto: Goran Ferbezar / PIXSELL

May 30th is National Statehood Day, a public holiday in Croatia. It marks the day when the first democratic multi-party Parliament was constituted in a sovereign and democratic Croatia, on May 30th 1990.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and his ministers laid wreaths at the Monument to the Homeland today, where the prime minister emphasized the historic significance of the events that took place 33 years ago today: “Freedom, democracy, international recognition, liberating occupied territories in the Homeland War, and the victory of the Croatian people over the greater Serbian aggression led by Slobodan Milošević, these are all key achievements and are the foundation of our modern and sovereign Croatian state. For this reason, today is an opportunity to thank, first and foremost, our Homeland War veterans, especially those who are no longer with us, who gave their lives for Croatian independence and democracy. To remember President Franjo Tuđman and his visionary dream.”

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković was also on hand for the wreath laying ceremony: “We have become a part of the western integration, and in reality we have become a part of everything we dreamed about at the end of 1980's and early 1990's. For that reason I thank everyone who played a part in the project. I believe that we have fulfilled those expectations. Obviously in the next phase we have to work on strengthening the living standard of Croatian citizens. We have to further develop our health care and legal systems. And obviously find a solution for the biggest and most difficult issue, and that is demographics.”

May 30th is also the Day of Homeland War Veterans from the City of Zagreb. Zagreb City Homeland War Veterans' Associations were joined by Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević at Mirogoj Cemetery today, where they laid wreaths in honor of those who gave their lives for Croatian independence: “To honor the sacrifice that was borne, especially the more than one thousand Zagreb natives who died defending Croatia in the Homeland War. But also the contribution of a huge number of Zagreb natives, almost seventy thousand, who participated in the Homeland War. So, were gathered here today to show our thanks to our Croatian defenders.”

President Zoran Milanović did not participate in today's commemorations, as he does not recognize May 30th as Croatian Statehood Day, but rather June 25th. On June 25th of 1991, following the May 19th referendum on declaring independence, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. However, due to the negotiation of the Brioni Agreement, a three-month moratorium was placed on the implementation of the decision, with Parliament cutting all remaining ties with Yugoslavia on October 8th of 1991, which is now celebrated as Independence Day.

For the first ten years of modern Croatian statehood, May 30th was celebrated as Statehood Day. In 2001 the SDP-led coalition government of Ivica Račan moved Statehood Day to June 25th, and 30 May was relegated to a memorial day under the name the Day of the Croatian Parliament. However, in 2020, the original date of May 30th was reinstated. Prime Minister Plenković today said that it is shameful that President Milanović does not recognize May 30th as Statehood Day: “I think that is shameful, and that the media should make a bigger issue of this, and confront him with this. And ask him what kind of president does not respect the Statehood Day of his own country.”

Parliament Speaker Jandroković is also baffled by the president's decision to boycott today's commemoration: “It would be natural for the President to be here and mark Statehood Day. It is one of the biggest, if not the biggest public holiday we have. However, our decisions define the values we nurture.”

On May 30th 1990 Žarko Domljan was selected as the first Speaker of the first democratically elected multi-party Croatian Parliament, after which he addressed the newly constituted chamber and its 351 MPs: “I think I am expressing the feelings of all MPs when I say that the massive faith voters have placed in this parliament, obliges all of us to, with respect for the past, we direct our sights to the future, to bring together all people of good will, all of the expertise and spiritual and material potential of our country, in achieving our common goal, and that is a free, democratic and modern Croatia.”

On May 30th the first Croatian President Franjo Tuđman addressed the thousands of people who gathered in downtown Zagreb to celebrate Croatia's departure from the communist regime of Yugoslavia: “I believed in you, the regular citizens and those from expert fields, that at the elections you would show your democratic awareness, your national awareness, and your maturity. I also now believe, that all of us will fulfill our obligation in building a new Croatia.”

The first multi-party elections were held in two rounds, in April and May of 1990, with Tuđman and the HDZ securing a convincing victory.

On the occasion of Statehood Day, the Cravat Regiment Honor Guard held its traditional changing of the guard in Zagreb, regiment commander Željko Matejčić: “This is the thirteenth year we are celebrating Statehood Day. And the third year since its reinstatement. First and foremost, I would especially like to wish a happy Statehood Day to all the defenders from the Homeland War and to all the families of the fallen and missing defenders.”

Croatian Statehood Day was observed in North American as well, at the border between the United States and Canada, at Niagara Falls, which were illuminated in the colours of the Croatian flag.

Source: HRT

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