Speaking in Jerusalem, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her host Reuven Rivlin said that relations between Croatia and Israel are turning into a strategic partnership.
Rivlin thanked Croatia for its constant support in international organizations, while the Croatian president said that Croatia will continue to be the voice of support once it assumes chairmanship over the European Union. The president visited the Yad Vašem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre where she lit the eternal flame for victims of the Holocaust and laid wreaths at the sight where ashes of the victims from Nazi concentration camps have been laid to rest.
“It is my honor and satisfaction to greet you in Jerusalem for what is already our third meeting,” said Reuven Rivlin and then commented on the deal to purchase F-16 Barack combat aircraft from Israel that fell through.
"Last year we tried to develop a complex and important deal. Uunfortunately what we expected didn't happen, but our relations are strong and solid and we can overcome difficulties together. Your visit gives me hope that we will find new ways to cooperate, and I believe that our friendship should transform into a strategic partnership," said Rivlin.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović commented the same topic saying "Unfortunately because of certain events the agreement wasn't realized. I personally thought that this was a great opportunity for Croatia and it would be a great foundation to further develop cooperation. This will not discourage us from further building our relations and strategic partnership."
The Croatian president also confirmed that she will take part in a meeting in Jerusalem next year marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi Death Camp and announced an exhibit on Croatian Righteous Among the Nations. These are people that saved Jews during the Second World War and who are especially honored at the Yad Vašem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, where she laid a wreath today and expressed deep regret for all the victims of the holocaust in Croatia.
"As the president of the Republic of Croatia, a country founded on antifascism and the Homeland War, I am exceptionally proud of Croatian people that are righteous among the nations, as well as others that were the symbols of light and courage during the darkness of war. I once again point out that the holocaust must not and will not ever be forgotten. That tragedy of the Jewish people and the pain of the survivors, is an eternal reminder that the values of humanity, peace and democracy must never be taken for granted, let us be better," said President Grabar-Kitarović.
At today's commemoration the memorandum on cooperation between Yad Vašem and the Croatian Ministry of Education on teaching about the Holocaust was extended for five years. The president noted that 350 Croatian professors and teachers have already attended additional education in Jerusalem.
President Grabar-Kitarović took the opportunity to give the director of Yad Vašem, Dorit Novak, a book titled Aloysius Stepinac - A Pillar of Human Rights, by author Esther Gitman.
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