The Croatian President has started a five day visit to Canada, during which she will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Julie Payette, representatives from Canadian Parliament and business leaders.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was received at the Croatian Embassy in Ottawa by Ambassador Marica Matković and members of the local Croatian community upon her arrival. She commended them for their continued support of Croatia. "You have done a fantastic job, because Canada was among the first countries to recognize Croatian independence on January 15th 1992 and we are endlessly thankful to you for that," the president said.
Ambassador Matković noted that this is the first state visit to Canada since Croatia achieved independence, something not easily achieved. "Canada does not have a lot of incoming visits, maybe four per year, and there is serous interest among other leaders to visit Canada. So, this was a big challenge for us. And the fact that it has come to pass is an acknowledgement of that effort."
Canadian Ambassador to Croatia Daniel Maksymiuk was also on hand. "For us Madame President in particular is an important partner. I have a feminist prime minister, we have a feminist foreign policy, and she is one of the very few elected women heads of state in the world."
Some 200 thousand Croatians live in Canada. Along with Ottawa, the president is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Croatian communities in Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary.
"When you invite someone into your house that indicates a special relationship. And with this opportunity, by inviting her into our home, Canada has shown that relations with Croatia are at that level, which is a great honor," noted Croatian-Canadian Ivan Grbešić.
John Marion of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce voiced his amazement at just how far relations between the two countries have progressed in the past 25 years. "You would have knocked me over if you would have told me 25 years ago that where we would be now is where we are today, because, I mean, I just can't believe how well we've done in terms of the relationship between Canada and Croatia."