JUNE 18 2012 22:19h
The holiday we are observing in a week is an opportunity to remember 25 June 1991, when the Republic of Croatia declared independence, Josipovic said, adding that the decision was made when it was uncertain whether other countries would recognise Croatia.
"There followed a military aggression and a war that was imposed on us, that we didn't want at all. Our thoughts on this occasion, when we celebrate our statehood, go first of all to those brave citizens, our defenders, who sacrificed for freedom, democracy and state independence their all, their lives," the President said, thanking and paying his respects to them.
He went on to say that many citizens had worked for Croatia's well-being and prosperity over the past two decades.
"No country is made of politicians alone, or public and known persons. Every country is what its people are. Our people have shown, in both difficult and good times, that they love their country and that they are willing to do what it takes for its progress."
The President said there was no doubt, either at home or in the world, that Croatia was "a completely normal country." Not perfect, because there is no such country, but neither a problem country, he added.
Josipovic said Croatia would join the EU in a year's time.
"Maybe this is an opportunity to reiterate that we see European Union membership as a great opportunity. It depends on us whether we will take it. We are willing to work with others, to be everyone's active partner, both to countries which are already European Union members and to our neighbours which are on the path of becoming one, as well as to other countries of the world whose policy is based on the notion of freedom and mutual respect."
Times are neither simple nor easy, but there have been tougher times, said Josipovic.
"We need a well-thought-out, responsible and mature vision of further development. We need a consensus of will and action so that we can face the challenges of the times in the best possible way. We need knowledge and competence," he said, adding that his wish for Croatia's birthday comprised three words - development, maturity and responsibility.
The President congratulated all Croatian citizens on Statehood Day. (Hina)