President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic temporarily relocated her office to the eastern town of Vukovar on Thursday "to be closer to citizens and for Vukovar to be, at least symbolically, the capital of Croatia" over the next three days.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems in this town, just as there are elsewhere in Croatia. We are not pleased with how the previous governments treated Vukovar and other areas that were occupied or affected by war. There is still a lot of work to be done to improve the living conditions," the president told a press conference outside Srijem Palace in Vukovar.
"I am confident that the new government will be formed soon," Grabar-Kitarovic said, adding that she would encourage the new government to pay special attention to areas such as Vukovar-Srijem County. She said that politicians should visit Vukovar all year round, and not just on November 18 when the town remembers the start of its occupation by Serb forces during the war, to improve the living conditions in the town. "I am deeply confident that the balanced development of Croatia is the only way to keep our people in the country."
Before the raising of the national flag outside Srijem Palace, which houses the county administration offices, Grabar-Kitarovic paid tribute to people killed or gone missing during the aggression on Vukovar in 1991. After that she scheduled a meeting with county and municipal authorities, and meetings with local Roman Catholic and Serb Orthodox church leaders, academics, Serb community leaders and members of the public were also planned.
The president's three-day stay in Vukovar coincides with the 18th anniversary of the peaceful reintegration of the previously occupied Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem regions into Croatia, which took place on 15 January 1998.