Croatian flag (Photo: Hrvoje Jelavic/PIXSELL) Croatian flag (Photo: Hrvoje Jelavic/PIXSELL)

January 15th is celebrated in Croatia as the day on which it was internationally recognized as an independent country. However, the process of gaining international recognition was a lengthy one. Between June 26th and December 14th Slovenia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Latvia all recognized Croatia as an independent state, however, at the time they were also seeking international recognition following the demise of the former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The first internationally recognized country to recognize Croatian independence was Iceland on December 19th.

On January 13th the Vatican, under the leadership of Pope John Paul II, recognized Croatia, opening the flood gates, with all 12 members of the European Union and another eight UN member states recognizing Croatia two days later. By the end of 1992 77 UN member states had recognized Croatian independence, and Croatia itself had become a member of the United Nations.

Croatia paid a high price for its independence, as the Serb dominated Yugoslavia embarked on a bloody war of aggression in March of 1991. Outmanned and outgunned Croatia was victim of some of the worst war crimes since the Second World War, including the siege of Vukovar, the Ovčara massacre, the Škabrnja massacre, the bombing of Dubrovnik and the rocket attacks on Zagreb. More than 13 000 Croatia’s were killed Serb aggression with 400 000 displaced from their homes.

On Tuesday both President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković congratulated Croatians on 27 years of international recognition. “In a mere 27 years Croatia achieved international recognition and membership of the United Nations through diplomatic means. Thanks to Croatian veterans it won the Homeland War, and politically affirmed itself internationally as a member of the EU and NATO ... The peaceful reintegration of the last occupied territory of our country was an exceptional success for Croatia and is a key part of President Franjo Tuđman's legacy. It remains the most successful United Nations peace mission in Europe, which even today represents the best model for resolving similar crisis situations in other parts of the world,” excerpt from a statement issued by government.

Source: HRT