On the second day of their visit to Croatia on Tuesday, Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited the eastern city of Osijek where they took a walk around its old Baroque quarter, called the Tvrdja or Citadel, and attended a seminar for secondary school students organised by the Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights.
Prince Charles said he was impressed with home-made and home-grown products and handicrafts displayed on stands in the Tvrdja, to which they were treated by local family farms and various associations.
He then talked to students at the seminar about their view of peace and the co-existence of different ethnic groups in eastern Croatia after the 1991-1995 war. He said he was pleasantly surprised by how good their English was and added that the next time he came to Osijek he would look for them to see where they had continued their education.
One of the hosts, Mayor Ivan Vrkic, spoke of the peaceful reintegration of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem into Croatia after four years of occupation by Serb insurgents and the Yugoslav army. The peaceful reintegration, brokered by the United Nations, lasted from 1996 until 1998, and Vrkic said that it was one of the most successful peace missions in the world.
Prince Charles was also interested in how this region was recovering from the war destruction and asked if there were many poor people, to which Vrkic said that a big problem was high unemployment which was forcing young people to seek their livelihoods abroad.
"All the industry in Osijek was completely destroyed during the war. We suffered great damage: a large number of jobs have been lost and we still feel it today. The economy is recovering very slowly and I'm afraid we will not live to see it fully recovered," Vrkic said, adding that one of the bright points was the city's IT sector which was making great progress.