župan vukovarsko-srijemski Božo Galić.jpg
Photograph: HINA / mm

The head of the eastern Vukovar-Srijem County, Mirko Galic, on Thursday received a Ukrainian delegation led by the deputy chief-of-staff of the Office of the Ukrainian President, Andriy Taranov, for talks on Croatia's experience in the process of peaceful reintegration of its Danube River region after the 1991-95 Homeland War, which could be applied in efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Croatia, Oleksandr Levchenko, who accompanied the delegation, said they were interested in the peaceful reintegration of that area that was achieved successfully and helped save many lives.

Every life saved has a great value, he said, noting that there was no need for haste and hoping direct conflicts could be avoided through talks and a sensible compromise.

He noted that Russia'a annexation of Crimea had for the first time after World War II compromised the United Nations' system on the inviolability of borders.

The Crimean peninsula must be returned to Ukraine. I am saying this also as a former deputy county head of Crimea. And that process must be peaceful. The Russian army, which entered Crimea without a single shot fired, must leave in the same way, Levchenko said, calling for talks on peace in Ukraine, with the participation of the EU and the USA.

He also said that around 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers and citizens had been killed in the Russian aggression on Ukraine. 

Taranov did not make any statements to the press.

Vukovar-Srijem County head Galic recalled the county's good cooperation with Ukraine and the agreement it signed six years ago with Ukraine's Transcarpathian Oblast (province).

"We are willing to share our experience in the Homeland War, when 30% of the new county was under occupation," Galic said.

Recalling that the peaceful reintegration of the Danube region was proposed by then President Franjo Tudjman, Galic said: "There were a lot of problems and difficult moments, but we succeeded and we want to share our experience with Ukraine."

After the talks, the Ukrainian delegation, accompanied by Galic, was expected to lay a wreath and light a candle at the Homeland War Memorial Cemetery and visit a memorial at the site of the 1991 mass atrocity at Ovcara outside Vukovar.

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