ZAGREB, December 11, 2018 – A four-metre-high monument to Franjo Tuđman, Croatia’s first president, was unveiled in the centre of Zagreb on Monday, on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of Tuđman’s death.
Addressing the unveiling ceremony, incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović praised the first head of state for understanding the signs of the times and for leading the nation when it created its state.
Noting that the anniversary of Tuđman’s death coincides with Human Rights’ Day, 10 December, Grabar-Kitarović underscored that Tuđman was aware that the ideal of fundamental human rights could not be fully exercised if a nation was not free.
Guided by that ideal, Tuđman joined the anti-Fascist movement during the Second World War, but soon after the end of WWII, he realised that the new state (Socialist Yugoslavia) failed to ensure the exercise of human, social and national ideals of the Croatian people, she added.
Many Croats could not accept that but only the few had a clear vision of the promotion of the Croatian cause, and Tuđman was a leader who could shape and implement that plan, said Grabar-Kitarović.
The key to his success was his belief that nations that are small, such as the Croat people, are also entitled to great ideas and the ability to implement them, she said.
Tuđman was also aware that the crucial historical opportunity should not be missed as it would lead to the “extinction of the Croat people,” she added.
She went on to say that that the first Croatian president was sure that a people that waged a just defensive war could not lose. After Operation Storm which completed efforts to bring freedom and independence to Croatia, Tuđman came to Vukovar with an extended hand of reconciliation and peace, said Grabar-Kitarović.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković recalled that under Tuđman’s leadership, the Croatians’ centuries-long dream of a free, democratic, independent and internationally recognised country became true.
The achievements of the Croatian state with Tudjman at its helm have enabled a free expression of the Croatian national and state identity, Plenković said.
It is therefore important to preserve those values, and Tuđman’s positive political legacy is a pillar of the present-day Croatia which we have to promote and develop in significantly different social and political circumstances, he added.
Today we have the responsibility to recognise new strategic priorities and implement them through dialogue, seek joint solutions, reinforce Croatian institutions and build the country’s international image, the prime minister said, recalling that during Tudjman’s presidency Croatia defined its commitment to integrating with European and trans-Atlantic organisations and the family of the most developed European countries.
The monument to Franjo Tuđman, erected at the intersection of Vukovarska and Hrvatske Bratske Zajednice streets, was formally unveiled by Grabar-Kitarović, sculptor Kuzma Kovačić, who is the monument’s author, members of the Tuđman family, and Zagreb Deputy Mayor Jelena Pavičić Vukičević.
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