The peaceful reintegration of the Croatian Danube area into the country's constitutional and legal system 18 years ago was the result of political agreement as well as of the personal courage of stakeholders in the process of peaceful reintegration, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said at a reception in Vukovar on Friday.

The reception was held on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of Croatia's international recognition and the 18th anniversary of the completion of the peaceful reintegration of the previously occupied Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem regions into Croatia, which took place on 15 January 1998. 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 Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem returned under Croatia's sovereignty, which enabled the beginning of post-war reconstruction and return of refugees and displaced persons.

With regard to the reintegration, President Grabar-Kitarovic said that it was the result of "the political wisdom of the first president Franjo Tudjman, the then Croatian government and leadership as well as of the leadership of local Serbs."

The reintegration also paved the way for a new phase in Croatia's relations with Serbia, which is today a friendly country, Grabar-Kitarovic said, adding that Croatia is committed to assisting Serbia and other south-eastern European countries on their path towards the European Union.

This is necessary in order to "finally stabilise this part of Europe and start speaking about peace, stability and prosperity rather than about outstanding issues."

The Croatian president thanked foreign ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, who had arrived in Vukovar for this reception and called on them to visit also other Croatian regions and develop cooperation with them.

"We must help local authorities and local businesses so as to encourage job creation," she said elaborating that this would also facilitate peaceful coexistence between the majority Croatians and ethnic Serbs and other minorities.

Addressing the reception on behalf of the diplomatic corps, Apostolic Nuncio Alessandro D’Errico expressed satisfaction with the organisation of this function in Vukovar which he described as "a historic and martyred city" 

"We appreciate your tireless commitment to reinforcing Croatia's position, both here and abroad," the Vatican prelate said praising Grabar-Kitarovic for her performance in the first year of her presidential term

The head of the former national committee for confidence restoration during the peaceful reintegration, Vesna Skare-Ozbolt, recalled that during that process President Tudjman had said that prudence should be prioritised over the weapons and that each life was valuable.

Before the reception, Croatian Serb leader Milorad Pupovac told reporters that anniversaries such as the two ones observed today committed the country to improving conditions, notably in areas such as Vukovar.

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