Outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic issued a New Year's message to Croatian citizens on Thursday, saying his main wish was the continuation of Croatia's economic growth so that all citizens could live better, and hoping that his government had set sufficiently firm foundations so that disorder, chaos and corruption could not return but belong to the past
"The democratic election cycle, notably the political denouement which followed, did not enable us to finish our job, but we are confident that the highest civilisation standards we have set will be difficult to bypass in the future. We hope that we have set sufficiently firm foundations so that disorder, chaos and corruption will not be able to return and that they finally belong to some other times," Milanovic said in the message.
"We genuinely hope that the democratic standards of a truly functioning modern state that have been achieved will not be brought into question in the time ahead. Everyone who has been entrusted with governing the state must remain sensitive to the problems of Croatian citizens, the care for them must come before and above all political games and one-upmanship. We expect and ask that all those responsible continue to respect the citizens of this country, to serve them and work solely for their good. Croatia must continue to grow for the good of its citizens. We have shown that it is possible," Milanovic said, wishing citizens on his and the government's behalf good health, happiness and well-being in 2016.
He said that 2015 was another year of big challenges as well as a year in which "the attempts of our serious and responsible work were finally confirmed, a year of positive economic indicators."
"All through 2015 we recorded positive movements in exports, industrial production and tourism, while data on GDP growth over several consecutive quarters irrefutably prove that we pulled the Croatian economy out of a years-long crisis. No one can dispute that a year of good economic news is behind us because Croatia is growing. By implementing a responsible policy in the service of citizens, we have turned around trends and this visible progress must not be stopped. My first and main New Year's wish is along those lines: that our country continue to grow economically so that all citizens can live better."
Milanovic went on to say that Croatia was a more organised country today with public finances in order, and that management and doing business was more transparent than ever in the past 25 years.
"We managed to kickstart economic growth without the radical measures which many called for and which certainly would have left many citizens without a job and impoverished. Social sensitivity was as important to us as achieving economic growth. Although faced with numerous pressures, we did not let the clean up after the economic crisis leave care for citizens on the margins. This is evidenced... by the measures whereby we solved the problem of citizens indebted in Swiss francs. We resolutely overcame all sorts of resistance to rid indebted families of debt slavery. We did it because we believe that the state must protect its citizens who found themselves in problems through no fault of their own."
Milanovic went on to say that 2015 would also be remembered as a year of big changes on the global front and that the ongoing refugee crisis was "not just a challenge for Croatia, but an opportunity to show compassion and humanity, both as a state and as individuals, without endangering the safety of Croatian citizens and the Croatian state for even a moment."
"Our institutions once again showed readiness and flexibility in action, with all the warmth of humanity. The dedication and sacrifice of the professionals who unselfishly and impeccably did their job, with many volunteers, make us proud and we are grateful and respect them. As a country which went through the suffering of war, we did not turn our backs to others' troubles. And as a full member of the European Union, we fought for the problems to be dealt with at their source and at no moment did we lose sight of Croatian interests."
Milanovic expressed his shock and sympathies with all the victims of the terrorist attacks in Europe and the rest of the world this year. "The world is an unsafe place, but Croatian citizens were calm because we led a responsible policy, keeping our services at the highest level of readiness. We built a tolerant and open society without divisions and, in time of temptation, we resolutely stood up against every form of intolerance, including xenophobic outbursts."