Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was in Split on Saturday for an event marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Franjo Tudjman, Croatia's first President.
The prime minister, joined by cabinet ministers and local officials, laid wreaths at the Tudjman statue on the city's waterfront. Plenković called Tudjman a visionary and ideal statesman; whose courage and determination led to a free and independent Croatia.
"He was a visionary statesman and a man who found strength in the most complicated historical circumstances to recognise a crucial time on the European continent and implement his idea of a free and sovereign Croatian state," Plenković said.
The dream of a free Croatia came true thanks to Tudjman's political acumen and the massive support he received from the Croatian people who participated in the referendum on independence, said the prime minister. He also thanked veterans for their service and the great sacrifice made by those who lost their lives.
Now, 30 years later, all this makes us indebted to Tudjman and we are obliged to build Croatia within the European Union, as a safe country and a prosperous economy and as a socially inclusive state, he added.
City mayor Andro Krstulović Opara said he was proud to have lived during Tudjman's lifetime. He said that Croatia would be eternally grateful to Croatia's first president.
Franjo Tudjman, born in Veliko Trgovišče on 14 May,1922, and served as president from 30 May, 1990, until his death on 10 December, 1999.