The 25th anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces and their day was commemorated on Friday.
Congratulating the military's members on their day, President and Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic recalled the killed and deceased Croatian defenders and Croatia's first President Franjo Tudjman.
"The Republic of Croatia passed a difficult and dangerous path to its freedom and internationally recognised independence. That success was achieved first and foremost thanks to the commitment and heroism of Croatian people, thanks to patriotic unity and faith in the final realisation of the historical will for an independent Croatian state," the president said.
She said it was a lucky circumstance that the then state leadership comprehensively considered the complexity of events, resolutely and wisely making and carrying out key decisions which turned out to be strategic.
"Croatia came out of an open Greater Serbia armed aggression as the winner. The Homeland War showed the importance of the Croatian reconciliation policy and the strength of patriotic unity regardless of faith and ethnicity. It showed the historical steadfastness of the nation-building idea and the importance of clear goals and firm principles in running the state policy. That's why those and other values generated in the Homeland War are the keystone of the foundations of the independent and modern Croatian state and a model to today's and future generations in the defence of Croatia's state and national interests," the president said.
She said that after the war Croatia began reforming its defence system, which resulted in NATO membership. "Participation in NATO operations affirmed Croatia as a responsible and reliable ally and also served the Armed Forces in the development and upgrade of the military skills adopted in the international environment," she said, adding that such know how and experience could not be learned at military training areas.
The president is confident that the Croatian Armed Forces are a modern, recognised, effective and professional military organisation, structured in line with the capabilities of the state and ready to respond to security challenges at any moment.
Chief Of Staff Mirko Sundov said the key goals for the development of the Croatian Armed Forces were investing in people and equipment modernisation and that, despite limited budget funds, the modernisation would continue. "I would be happier if we could do more, but right now I think we should be realistic and manage what we have in the best way possible."
Defence Minister Josip Buljevic said the Croatian Armed Forces had 25 years of a victorious path behind them. He congratulated everyone who after the war worked hard to build a modern military as well the soldiers who were praised in international peace missions.
The commemoration was attended by Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, Parliament Speaker Zeljko Reiner and War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved, among others.