President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in the eastern town of Vukovar on Friday that it was necessary to find new models of coexistence in the Croatian Danube river region and other formerly war-torn areas.
Grabar-Kitarovic was speaking at a conference marking the 18th anniversary of the peaceful reintegration of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem, held under her auspices.
"In the past few years... it has become evident that the process of peaceful reintegration is complex and sensitive and that in reality it has not been completed. Impractical insistence on the application of some legal provisions taken out of the political context of the Constitutional Law on Ethnic Minority Rights has additionally hampered that process," she said, adding that it was still necessary to complete the process of peaceful reintegration.
"It is primarily necessary to find new models of so-called coexistence, which is often just a euphemism for isolation and self-isolation," she said.
Grabar-Kitarovic recalled that the process of peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube river region started on January 15, 1996 and was completed two years later.
Commenting on minority rights, she underlined the significance of the adoption of the Constitutional Law on Ethnic Minority Rights in 2002, recalling that minority rights in Croatia were also regulated by other laws.
"Also, the Council for the National Minorities and the Office for Human and Minority Rights have been established, whereby overall minority rights are regulated at a very high normative and structural level."
The conference on the peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube river region was organised by the European House Vukovar, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation from Zagreb, and the Centre for Ethnicity, Citizenship and Migration Research.
The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1037 on the UNTAES mission in eastern Croatia on 15 January 1996. The peaceful reintegration process was completed on 15 January 1998 when the Danube region, comprising Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem, was returned under Croatia's sovereignty after Serb insurgents occupied it in 1991 with the help of the Yugoslav People's Army. The peaceful reintegration of the region enabled the beginning of post-war reconstruction and the return of refugees and displaced persons.