Prince Charles and Camilla.jpg
Photograph: HINA

British Crown Prince Charles on Tuesday visited the Archaeological Museum in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek where he met representatives of religious communities from that eastern part of Croatia and talked about the contribution of inter-religious dialogue to building peace and to post-war reconciliation.

There are more than 30 religious communities in eastern Slavonia, the biggest ones being the Catholic, Serb Orthodox and Muslim communities.

Support and dialogue between religious communities played an important role in the reconciliation and peace building processes, which is particularly important in the process of peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Srijem by which, in January 1998, Croatia restored its sovereignty over that territory following the Serb occupation and a two-year UN transitional administration (UNTAES).

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Catholic Church, the Serb Orthodox Church, the Islamic religious community, the Protestant Church and the Jewish Community of Osijek. The Prince of Wales wanted to know if obstacles to peace still existed and the joint conclusion of religious dignitaries was that the situation had improved compared to 1991.

Prince Charles also met representatives of the Osijek Software City association which today brings together 29 IT companies with more than 500 employees. Over the past four years the association has cooperated with numerous Croatian and foreign partners and in that period it increased exports by 460%. The association's long term objective is to have Osijek be recognised as a city of IT experts which would encourage investors and potential clients to invest in the city and which would create conditions for a healthy economy and a favourable climate for start-up companies.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, then took a tram ride to the city's Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. In the cathedral, whose construction started in 1894 at the proposal of then Djakovo Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, they met with Djakovo-Osijek Archbishop Djuro Hranic and parish priest Adam Bernatovic. The British royal couple then talked to restorers working on the renovation of the cathedral that was hit with more than 100 projectiles in the 1991-95 Homeland War.

The royal couple then visited Holy Trinity Square in the city's Old Town Tvrdja, the best-preserved and largest complex of Baroque buildings in this part of Europe, built in the 18th century by the Hapsburg monarchy in defence against the Ottoman Empire. They were greeted by Osijek Mayor Ivan Vrkic and County Prefect Vladimir Sisljagic.

Vrkic stressed Osijek is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional city of the central European cultural circle, the hometown of two Nobel Prize winners -- Lavoslav Ruzicka and Vladimir Prelog. Vrkic also informed Prince Charles that Osijek had submitted it candidacy for the European Culture Capital 2020.

Sisljagic informed the royal couple that this region suffered the most during the 1991-1995 war for independence.

After that, the Duchess of Cornwall will visit the Lipizzan stud farm in Djakovo, one of the oldest in Europe, established in 1506. The farm was visited by Queen Elisabeth II during her visit in 1972.

The Prince of Wales, who has been active for years in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development, will visit the eco-centre "Zlatna greda" in the Kopacki Rit nature park.

This is the Prince of Wales' fifth visit to Croatia and the first to Osijek, the city where in August 1837 German nobleman Franz von Teck was born. By marrying British Princess Mary, Von Teck became Francis, the Duke of Teck. He is Prince Charles' grand-grandfather.

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