Croatia is the youngest and only EU member state which experienced the kind of aggression Ukraine is experiencing, so it understands best what it is going through, Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Monday on the occasion of Europe Day.
“We know what’s going on, we know how they suffer, we know how proud they are, we know how brave they are and we know they are not allowing their identity to be attacked,” he added. EU membership has brought Croatia additional protection, security and opportunities for growth and development, which is why Croatia is practically predestined to encourage enlargement, the minister said.
He also spoke of his visit to Ukraine yesterday with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, during which they talked with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk.
“We visited the towns of Irpin and Bucha, which were bombed without reason or motive, houses were razed to the ground, civilians killed and thrown into a mass grave, 400 of them,” Grlic-Radman said.
On the occasion of Europe Day, the European Parliament’s Croatian office organized numerous events and workshops focusing on young people as 2022 was designated European Year of Youth. In the context of the Russian aggression on Ukraine, the EU’s importance as a community of solidarity, values and rule of law was underlined.
Speeches were delivered by the head of the office, Violeta Simeonova-Stanicic, the head of the European Commission Representation in Croatia, Ognian Zlatev, Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Kyrylych and French Ambassador Gael Veyssiere.
Congratulating young people on Europe Day, Kyrylych said Europe was a strong international community which put up a strong resistance to the Russian aggression on Ukraine.
“They are calling what is happening in Moscow today a victory parade. Victory is not a parade, victory is not a thing, victory is the wisdom and solidarity of the international community, victory is when leaders of peoples visit the guardian of Europe,” he said.
“That’s what the strong do, that’s what the wise and those who look to tomorrow do. Ukraine’s big friend, the Croatian prime minister, did that, visiting Kyiv yesterday with the foreign minister,” he added.
Zlatev said the role of young people was more important than ever and called on them to use the possibilities and the potential at their disposal, highlighting the Erasmus+ project.
Europe is at your disposal. Research, science and innovation are at the center of the Union’s strategy to stimulate growth and employment, he added.
2022 should have been the year of big recovery, of coming out of the pandemic, of economic growth, of green recovery and digital transition, said Simeonova-Stanicic.
But, because of the Russian aggression, the struggle for peace and security now comes first, she added.