Kolinda Grabar Kitarović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Ured predsjednice/ ua

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic warned in her state of the nation address on Monday that lately the Croatian public had been plagued by divisions that were ripping the society apart and eating away the foundations of the country, calling on Croatian citizens not to allow their future to be stolen by the demons of their unfortunate past and urging the government and all those involved in politics to stop arguing and get to work.

She asked the Croatian government, state institutions, political parties, NGOs and other participants in public life if they were aware of the fact that busloads of young people are leaving the country each day, not just because they cannot find a job, but also because of the unbearable atmosphere of hatred and intolerance that has polluted our public space, and urged that they do their best to stop fighting and get to work.

"I address you from the Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia, where the most important decisions with respect to the founding of the modern Croatian state have been made. Fully aware of my responsibility for the stability of the country and the preservation of the fundamental values of the Constitution, I have decided to address all of you in this way, regardless of your national, religious or any other background," the president said.

"Recently we have been witnessing an escalation of intolerance, hate speech and the glorification of failed criminal regimes of the past. The Croatian public is plagued by divisions that have been tearing Croatian society apart and eroding the very foundations of the state.  We have reduced thousands of years of the heroic and proud history of our nation to a few years of the past century, which brought suffering, death, ruined homes and broken families to hundreds of thousands of people, and deeply divided the Croatian people.," the president said in her address that was carried by national broadcasters.

The president reiterated that the Ustasha regime had put the worst stain on the then legitimate will of the Croat people for their own country.

"Yet again, I will say loud and clear: the Ustashi regime, with its politics of affiliation with fascism and Nazism, selling away parts of our state territory and criminal procedures of mass crimes, expulsions and murders, abused and severely tarnished the legitimate desire of the Croatian people at that time, to have our own state. Likewise, we must strictly distinguish between anti-fascism, as a value of modern Europe, and modern Croatia, embedded in our Constitution, and the criminal Yugoslavian communist regime, under which tens of thousands of people of different nationalities and ideals were brutally executed as enemies of the state, without due process of law or any human rights," the president said.

Grabar-Kitarovic called on the citizens not to allow their future be stolen by the demons of their unfortunate past.

"The modern Croatian State rests upon the reconciliation of the descendants of Ustashi and Partisans. Had we been so divided in 1991, we would not have been able to realize the dream of a free and democratic Croatian State under the leadership of the first Croatian President, Dr. Franjo Tudjman. "

"Please, do not allow that our young people be poisoned by the seeds of animosity and hatred," she said.

"Please, stop quarrelling amongst yourselves and get to work! Croatia needs decisive and strong leadership and unity that will ensure new jobs and investments, stop the exodus of young people and address the need for urgent demographic measures. When that starts to happen and when people feel positive progress, the ideological divisions will be marginalized and become the subject of academic debate. Otherwise, this spiralling competition in justifying regimes that do not deserve justification will escalate in our streets, in our trams, at our stadiums ... And then it will be difficult to turn back the clock," the president said.

The president underscored she was aware that her words today would upset both the far right and the far left. "But my conscience is clear, because I am absolutely sure that I have outlined the only right path for Croatia. I have never strayed, nor will I stray from my basic principle, which is a Better Croatia for all! And this is only possible if we learn from our past, if we show our respect for the victims of all regimes in a dignified manner through peace and silence, and lead loud and public debates only about a better life for our people today."

"And so, my fellow Croats at home and abroad and all of you who are members of minorities let us turn to the future and together build our only and Better Croatia!" the president said. 

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