The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, accepted the award for the European speech of the year, today in the Europe House in Zagreb.
The Prime Minister was awarded for the speech he gave on February 6 this year in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, in which he presented his vision of Europe’s future.
“I invested 25 years of my political life and professional career into making European values a part of modern Croatia… without losing sense of political reality, this is why I consider it key for us to work together to renew European ideas by making our common policies stronger and by spending our budgetary resources wisely. The goal is for our fellow citizens not to be indifferent towards Europe, let alone be against it. On the contrary, citizens need to feel the benefits of Europe, they need to embrace it and actively participate in its further development,” the Prime Minister said in the award-winning speech.
The European Speech of the Year award is given annually, on Europe Day (May 9), and is the most prestigious award by the European Movement Croatia, part of the European Movement International (EMI), the largest pan-European network of pro-European organisations.
“The speech in the European Parliament is a confirmation of the Prime Minister’s 25-year career dedicated to the promotion of Croatia’s interests in the international community, and of the commitment to the European values. The speech was chosen because it shares the goals and values of the European Movement Croatia and the Europe House Zagreb, which protect the interests if Croatia and its people,” the Europe House said.
Accepting the award, a sculpture symbolising Croatia’s membership in the EU, the Prime Minister thanked the European Movement Croatia members and his colleagues.
“Today is Europe Day, when we remember the Schumann declaration which created a blueprint for the creation of the European project 68 years ago,” Plenkovic said.
“In the (award-winning) speech, I have reminded of Croatia’s experience. We have not reached our 1990 economic levels until 2004. We cannot forget that. That is a consequence of war, but also the cause of the speed of our growth and development. In 2004, our neighbours joined the EU. Here is that difference, that gap we must make up for,” Plenkovic said.
“Today there is much talk of populism and antieuropean parties. It is the task of the parties in power to be the barrier to these processes and to commit to the solutions which would clearly support the European values,” Plenkovic said, adding that Croatia was now entering a maturity phase where it is expected to be a leader and take the right initiatives.
“Firmly believing in the reasons behind the European project, I think that we have a great responsibility to the young people in Croatia to make sure our membership makes the lives of our fellow citizens better every day. These are the European values we support,” he said.