Croatian Prince Nikola Subic Zrinski gave his life as a Croat and as a Hungarian for values which remain the foundation of Europe, doing his duty to protect Christian civilisation and culture, Hungarian President Janos Ader said in Szigetvar, Hungary at a ceremony for the 450th anniversary of the Battle of Szigetvar.
The battle is believed to have saved Vienna thanks to Zrinski, commander of the fortress of Szigetvar, who stopped an Ottoman invasion. The main celebration was held on the fortress in the presence of top Croatian, Hungarian and Turkish officials.
Zrinyi Miklos, as Hungarians call Zrinski, died for values which remain Europe's foundation and Europe's fate depended on his mission, said Ader.
In 1566, the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent embarked with over 100,000 soldiers on his 13th campaign, the conquest of Vienna. On his way was the fortress of Szigetvar, which Captain Zrinski defended with an army of 2,500 people, mostly Croats. After a month-long siege, the sultan died of natural causes and the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha kept his death secret so as not to discourage the army and to continue with the siege of the town.
On September 7, after the town was set on fire, Zrinski and the surviving defenders marched towards the Turkish positions, where they were all killed without surrendering.
He knew that the battle of Szigetvar was not only that but meant much more, that his duty was to protect Christian civilisation and culture, said Ader.
At the fortress, Ader, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak unveiled a monument to Zrinski.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that, "despite the fall of Szigetvar, the outcome of that battle was noted in all of Europe as a miraculous victory because it stopped the campaign of the mighty Ottoman army on Vienna."
She said Hungary and Croatia shared all the traditional and contemporary European values and "they are shared to a great extent also by Turkey as a European state, a candidate for European Union membership and a member of NATO."
Kaynak spoke at the Hungarian-Turkish Friendship Park, home to busts of Zrinski and Suleiman the Magnificent. The park was opened in 1994 on Suleiman's 500th birthday. Thanking the Hungarian and Croatian presidents for visiting the park, he greeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he could not be present because he was at a G20 meeting.
Kaynak thanked Hungary for being the first to condemn an attempted coup in Turkey in July, saying that after bombings in Turkey the Hungarian ambassador in Ankara immediately came to the Turkish parliament. The two peoples have been cultivating friendly relations for a long time, he added.
Talking about Suleiman the Magnificent, Kaynak said it was known that he made his empire the biggest in the world and that he died in Szigetvar. "I bow with great honour to his memory as well as to the memory of Nikola Zrinski," he said, thanking those in Turkey and Hungary who took part in archaeological researches in this region, where Suleiman's grave was found.
"Let this be the point which will symbolise the friendship and brotherhood of the three peoples," Kaynak said.
After the anniversary celebration, Grabar-Kitarovic and Ader were due to visit the Croat community in Pecs, Hungary and the Hungarian community in Karanac, Croatia.